28 October 2013
Tales of the Were: Red - Excerpt
Tales of the Were: Red
Redstone Clan #2
A water nymph and a werecougar meet in a bar fight… No joke.
Steve Redstone agrees to keep an eye on his friend’s little sister while she’s partying in Las Vegas. He’s happy to do the favor for an old Army buddy. What he doesn’t expect is the wild woman who heats his blood and attracts too much attention from Others in the area.
Steve ends up defending her honor, breaking his cover and seducing the woman all within hours of meeting her, but he’s helpless to resist her. She is his mate and that startling fact is going to open up a whole can of worms with her, her brother and the rest of the Redstone Clan.
EXCERPT (c) 2013 Bianca D’Arc
“Hey, Red! How’s it hanging?”
“Damn. I knew I shouldn’t have answered the phone.” Steve Redstone’s smile belied his gruff tone. The call was from one of his oldest and best Army buddies—Derek “Deke” Morrow—an entirely human soldier, but a great guy nonetheless. He was also one of the most skilled warriors Steve had ever known.
“Man, I’ve got a big favor to ask you.” Deke’s tone was serious and Steve sobered.
“Spill, bro. You know I’ll do what I can for you.”
“Thanks, man. Knew I could count on you. Thing is, my baby sister is heading your way. One of her girlfriends decided it would be fun to have her bachelorette party in Sin City. It’s not that I don’t trust Trish, as much as I don’t trust her friends. This is an accident waiting to happen and I need some backup. I can’t go. She’d kill me if I showed my face, but she doesn’t know you and you’re local.”
“So you want me to show her a good time?” Steve relaxed. Babysitting, he could do. Teasing his friend just came naturally.
“You do, and I’ll break both your legs.” The tone said Deke was only half-joking.
“Relax. I’ve got you covered. What hotel are they staying at?”
A few minutes later, the call ended and Steve had all the information he’d need to track down his good friend’s wayward sister. He’d establish surveillance first. Check the lay of the land and see what kind of mischief the girls were getting up to. If necessary, he could call on some members of his Clan to help him keep an eye on things, but he didn’t really think that would be necessary. How much trouble could a few young human girls get into, after all?
Steve cursed himself for even thinking that a few hours later as he leaned against the wall of a dark club, watching the half-dozen women who had stormed the Las Vegas strip with the way-too-gorgeous little sister of his friend. Trisha Morrow was a knockout. That was something Steve hadn’t counted on.
When Derek talked about his kid sister, he always made her sound like a teenager. The woman currently knocking back an entire row of colorful, questionable test tube shots at the bar was no teenager. Far from it. She was an adult and as lovely as her brother was deadly.
Steve’s first sight of her had nearly knocked him off his feet, and his reaction hadn’t tamed any in the two hours since. He’d followed the gaggle of women out of the hotel where they were staying and tailed them to this club. They were enjoying the live band, some dancing and a whole lot of drinking. Too much drinking, by his standards. Some of the girls were getting sloppy drunk, but Trisha Morrow seemed to be able to hold her liquor with a little more dignity than her friends. That was something, at least.
He knew she was just as shitfaced as the other women though. She was unsteady on those sexy high heels and the way her short skirt rode up when she tried to get on the barstool had nearly given him a heart attack. She was tall for a human woman. Just a little shorter than her brother, who was about six foot. Trish had to be about five-nine or so. A nice height to match Steve’s six-foot-two.
And he really shouldn’t be thinking thoughts like that. No, not at all. Her brother would kill him if he even thought Steve was thinking about his little sister in an inappropriate way. It would end a friendship Steve valued, and he wasn’t willing to give up that relationship over a woman. Even a woman as knock-out gorgeous as Trisha Morrow.
Steve kept watch from afar. He didn’t want to know her scent. He stayed well upwind so he wouldn’t accidentally smell the sexy, feminine aroma he just knew would rev his engine to full throttle. It was bad enough seeing her. He didn’t want to know the intimate details her scent would reveal to him.
If he wanted to keep his friend, it was better he didn’t know. Even though his inner cougar clawed at his insides to learn more about the pretty female. The cat appreciated Trisha’s beauty and its innate curiosity pushed at Steve to find out more about her, but he couldn’t. He was a babysitter. That’s it.
Steve was so busy watching the woman and thinking about how he mustn’t get too close to her that he almost missed the danger when it struck. One of Trisha’s friends—the bride-to-be, in fact—went out onto the dance floor with a creature Steve recognized. A creature he had no respect for and would not let interfere with this particular group of women.
He had to act. Pushing away from the wall, Steve strolled onto the dance floor and positioned himself opposite Jorge, a Peruvian vampire who’d moved to the area recently. The bloodletter was already treading on thin ice with the local Master of his kind for preying a little too openly on humans. He hadn’t killed anyone yet—that they knew of—but he’d been warned repeatedly to be more discrete in his feeding.
Steve made sure he caught Jorge’s eye, and with a grudging sort of compliance, Jorge finished the dance and escorted the woman back to her friends. He left her with them and glanced over at Steve, cocking his head. Steve looked toward a quiet corner and Jorge nodded almost imperceptibly.
They both moved toward the corner. Steve stood for a moment while the vampire did one of his magic tricks and dampened the sound so they could talk. It was amazing what some of the older vamps could do. They had a weird sort of magic all their own, very unlike anything Steve had seen human magic users do.
“Handy,” Steve mused. “Thanks for the moment of quiet.”
“You wanted to talk with me?” Jorge prompted, clearly annoyed, but Steve didn’t give a shit.
The Redstone Clan was the most powerful group in this city, and even the Master knew it. This guy should show a little more respect, even if he was a few hundred years old. Steve could still crush him like an egg. And he wouldn’t even need backup from his Clan to do it. Jorge just wasn’t as tough as he apparently thought he was.
“I’d like you to leave those women alone.” Steve didn’t owe the vampire any more explanation than that, though he sensed Jorge was going to be difficult.
“Why should I? They are human, are they not?” Jorge looked over the small group who went on talking, laughing and drinking, unaware of the discussion in the corner.
“Yep. Human,” Steve agreed. “And under my protection. Got it?” He leaned forward, doing his best to intimidate the shorter man.
“What’s in it for me if I do you this favor?”
Steve had to stifle a sigh. This little twerp really didn’t understand the gravity of the situation, and he certainly didn’t know his place in the hierarchy around these parts. But Steve didn’t want to be the heavy. It wasn’t necessary and it would take too much time.
“I would be grateful. And I won’t tell Tony you’ve been sniffing around the tourists again. I heard he warned you off…what was it? Three times, already? You should know better by now, Jorge.”
Antoine de Latourette was the local Master vampire. His friends called him Tony. He was more than seven hundred years old and not someone to cross lightly.
Jorge finally got the message and straightened from his insolent slouch against the wall. He looked miffed, but Steve didn’t care. It was time somebody taught this little pipsqueak a lesson.
“Instead of harassing me, maybe you ought to put a leash on some of your own.” Jorge sneered as he looked pointedly over at the group of women.
Steve looked too.
“Shit.” Things were getting more complicated by the moment. He turned back to Jorge. “Do we have an understanding?”
Jorge nodded, dropped the barrier he’d held that kept the blaring sound of the club at bay and turned to go without another word. It was disrespectful, but Steve didn’t care at the moment. The group of seven women had been joined by a small Pack of wolves he knew well.
What was it with Derek’s little sister that she—or her group of friends—were drawing out all the Others tonight? It couldn’t be helped. Steve was going to find out for himself.
He set out across the crowded room just as a fight broke out. The violence quickly spread toward him, but he had his objective clear in mind. He wasn’t going to let anything stop him from making it to the small group of women. He’d promised Derek he’d take care of his sister. Letting her get hurt in a bar fight was not going to happen on his watch.
Somebody threw a punch at Steve. He barely paused to return the favor, sending the stupid human flying several feet back, out of Steve’s way. Another idiot tried to block his way with a barstool. Steve made short work of him but he started to wonder why seemingly disinterested bystanders were suddenly keen to stop him from getting to the women.
Steve whistled and one of the wolves perked up, looking through the crowd. Steve caught his eye and gave him a silent signal. Guard. Protect. Instantly, the stance of the young wolves went from merely protective of the women, which they’d been already, to on guard. Good dogs, Steve thought with a fleeting moment of humor as yet another human tried to block his path.
One of the wolves made as if to come help him, but Steve signaled him back. Protect the women, he sent via the hand signals everyone in the Redstone Clan knew. This group of wolves was part of one of the construction crews and they were mostly reputable. A little rough around the edges maybe, but good men all. Steve was sort of relieved to have them here now that the situation had taken an unexpected turn.
Steve paused momentarily to parry a few punches aimed his way but he didn’t let the concerted attacks slow him down. He kept his eyes on the prize, making his way one opponent at a time, toward Trisha Morrow.
The club was great, but when the fight broke out on the other side of the packed dance floor, Trisha sobered enough to realize they probably should leave. Only there were a bunch of handsome men—big bruisers, most of them—flirting with the girls and none of her friends seemed sober enough to realize there might be danger if the fight kept escalating in their direction.
Trisha looked around and her gaze was caught by one man. A big, muscular man. He was as big as her brother, Deke, and just as good in a fight. He was walking toward her but kept getting waylaid by idiots who wanted to fight. Why they tried to hit him, she’d never know. Even she could see he wasn’t interested in the melee. He was just trying to get from one side of the club to the other, and he didn’t really seem to care who he had to mow down to do it.
There was something so elemental about the way he moved. Like a panther on the prowl. He vanquished one opponent after another—sometimes more than one at a time—sweeping them out of his way as if they were nothing. He sent a few guys sailing through the air. Some went down hard on the grimy floor. A few turned away when he growled at them.
He actually growled. She could hear the low rumble of it, even across the distance that still separated them. Why in the world did she find that sexy?
“Guys?” Trisha tried to get the attention of her drunk friends while her gaze remained on the warrior.
That’s the only word she could think of to describe him. He had to be like Deke and most of the guys in her family. Military. Spec Ops. If not, then some kind of mercenary or professional killer.
That last thought almost made her giggle with nerves as their eyes met. And held.
Even as he threw two more would-be fighters aside, he kept his gaze on her. When he had to look away to throw a punch or block a barstool being thrown at him, it was only momentary. As soon as he’d dealt with the obstacle, he looked straight back at her again.
It was about that time she realized he wasn’t just moving across the room. He was actually aiming for her table. For her.
Her foggy mind didn’t understand the animal attraction that reared up and made her want to purr when she realized that hunk of dangerous manhood was making a beeline to her side. The rest of the raucous room faded to nothing as she watched his muscles bunch and flex as he dealt with one miscreant after another. Yowza. He was hot.
Hot and dangerous. The ultimate bad boy. Mrawr.
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