Warning: this is the raw, unedited version of Nora and Jared's story. You're reading this before all alpha readers, beta readers, reviewers, editors, etc. So it could suck. There will be errors. But I tend to write fairly clean drafts so it should be readable. Hopefully. You can always ignore these emails or email me to be removed from future installments. I'll let you know when the shiny, edited story is ready to be read.
Hope you enjoy it! To read all the scenes I've emailed so far, click here.
The wine glass shattered in Nora’s hand.
Jennifer cursed. Tasha half rose out of her chair.
“Are you okay?” their waitress asked, showering the table with little white napkins.
“I’m fine,” Nora said. The stem had sliced across her palm. Blood mixed with the Cabernet that dripped to the floor. Good thing she’d chosen red tonight.
“I’m so sorry,” the waitress said. “I’ll get you another glass. Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yes.” Nora’s voice was icy.
The waitress rushed off.
Probably too icy. It wasn’t the waitress’s fault. There had been nothing wrong with the wine glass. Nora had simply crushed it in frustration.
“Are you sure you’re not cut?” Jennifer asked.
Nora almost didn’t hear her friend’s question. Something pulsed nearby, the aura of another paranorm. Vampire, most likely, roused by the smell of her blood.
She waited another second for her cut hand to heal, then she showed Jennifer her palm. “It’s fine.”
Satisfied, Jennifer sat back in her chair. “I knew you’d be upset, but not that upset.”
The words were meant as a joke. Both humans laughed. Nora forced a cool smile to her lips as well. Her friends would never know the extent of her unrest. It wasn’t just the wolf that wanted to crawl out of her skin. She was drowning, smothered by the weight of an ocean filled with the demands and expectations of the most powerful alpha on the planet. Powerful because of his dominance, both physically and magically, over his wolves, and powerful because he controlled access to the only Null zone in existence, a place where the moonsick could go to quiet their connections to their packs and to escape the maddening influence of the full moon.
That alpha was also her father.
“What if we talk to your dad?” Tasha asked. “Would that help?”
Nora snorted. “No.”
The waitress returned with a new glass and another apology. “This one’s on the house.”
“No need,” Nora said. “I’ll pay.” This little outing was the only rebellion she could manage, time with her human friends and Swirl’s most expensive bottle of wine, which she was paying for with her father’s money. By the glass. Because it cost more.
Tasha huffed out a breath. “We found the perfect apartment. It’s within walking distance of the beach.”
“And we really need another person to split the rent with,” Jennifer said. She lifted her glass of wine in the air and added, “Someone with extra money to throw away.”
She would throw away all the money at her disposal if she could move to California—if she could move anywhere away from here—but not only had her father denied her permission to leave his territory, he’d forbidden her from asking about it again. And he’d put his power as alpha behind his order. It had wrapped around her, tightening her throat and preventing any protest.
Rage built under her skin again. She set down her wine glass so she didn’t launch it into the wall.
Or into the head of the vampire who drifted closer. He was somewhere behind her. She couldn’t get a feel for his age. Maybe he was young and stupid and would look at her wrong. She was in a killing mood tonight.
“You know, you’re an adult,” Jennifer said, a finger tracing the rim of her glass. “He can’t really tell you what to do.”
Who would have thought Nora would ever become envious of a human? How easy life would be if she could simply defy her father.
“Have you told Clay you’re moving?” Nora asked, turning the subject away from her and the alpha.
“I mentioned I was thinking about it,” Jennifer said. “I’ll tell him next…”
Jennifer’s gaze lifted. She focused behind Nora, and her finger froze on her glass rim.
“Holy shit,” her friend whispered, a look of pure lust crossing her face. The smell of her arousal was immediate and potent. So was Tasha’s as soon as she focused on the thing, the vampire, that had captured Jennifer’s attention.
He stopped beside their table. “Join me.”
Those two words whispered across Nora’s skin like a silk scarf. The vampire’s eyes were as black as the clothes he wore. They were set into a face that projected strength—strong cheekbones, strong jaw, strong shoulders that lead into a strong, hard body. His age was indeterminate but he wasn’t young. His posture held too much authority, and his years, his experiences, deeply shaded the edges of his aura, the invisible atmosphere that surrounded all paranormal beings. Everything about him was dark and treacherous and as inviting as the sweetest sin.
The arousal perfuming the air increased, distracting even her for a moment before her instinct kicked in, her ire. There was no way the vampire did not know she was a wolf. Still, he encroached on her table, her territory, her friends.
“Okay,” Jennifer said, her face flushed.
“No,” Nora snapped.
Jennifer froze, mid-stand. It wasn’t out of character for her to go off with an attractive man, but she would not go off with this arrogant asshole who had yet to acknowledge Nora’s presence.
Jennifer’s gaze shifted between Nora and the vampire. “Would you like to sit?”
“He would like to go,” Nora said.
The vampire held his hand out to Jennifer. “I have a private table.”
“This table was private until you walked up.” Still, he didn’t glance her way.
Jennifer straightened. She reached for his hand.
“Sit down,” Nora ordered.
Jennifer’s attention snapped to her. Nora held her gaze, letting her will ensnare her friend. She was a dominant wolf, capable of exerting her influence on those around her and capable of ripping the throat from this vampire who had chosen the wrong night and the wrong place to act a fool.
“I would enjoy dinner with you,” the vampire said, his hand still held out. His gaze still not wavering.
“Find someone else.” Nora’s voice came out in a snarl and, finally, the vampire looked at her. His focus moved slowly from her face to her neck to her breasts.
“She is the most beautiful woman in this establishment.” The words were a deliberate slight, an insult saying she was nothing and nobody. That she was insignificant.
Jennifer placed her hand in the vampire’s. “My name is Jennifer.”
“Jennifer,” he repeated, returning that dark gaze to her friend. “Come.”
Jennifer threw her an apologetic smile but let the vampire lead her away from their table. Jaw slack, Nora watched them walk toward the hallway that led to the restrooms and back exit.
The bastard had stolen from her. He’d subverted her dominance and taken away her friend.
He couldn’t be local. Vampires and werewolves might tolerate each other in other territories, but here near the foothills of the Appalachians, in her father’s territory, he and the vampire master, Arcuro, vied for power and influence. They avoided war only by respecting the claims of the other paranorms, claims of both people and property. This vampire had transgressed.
She stood in one fast, fluid motion.
“I’ll be back,” she said to Tasha, already striding away. She had to move, to act. She could feel the wolf waiting under her skin, just one small explosion from being let out to kill.
Maybe Nora would taste blood tonight. She could almost feel her teeth sinking into the vampire, could almost feel his throat collapsing between her jaws.
Her mouth was watering by the time she reached the hallway. Her claws pierced the skin of her palms. The vampire stood looking down at Jennifer. He moved a tendril of her hair away from the face as she beamed up at him and pressed herself against his body, completely enraptured.
“You are interrupting,” the vampire said, sliding a finger down the side of Jennifer’s neck.
“You are dead.” She grabbed Jennifer’s arm and yanked her away.
“Nora.” Her friend frowned. Stumbling. Confused.
“Go back to the table. Get Tasha. Leave,” she ordered. The vampire’s gaze met Nora’s. The hair on the back of her neck prickled. Her hold on Jennifer’s arm slipped, and something—distress, alarm, hunger—plunged through her stomach.
This vampire was old. Much older than he let on. He was muting his aura, letting only a little leak out.
“You are interrupting,” the vampire said again, his deep, cultured voice vibrating the air.
“You are out of line,” Nora snarled.
“I’m okay,” Jennifer said, turning back toward the vampire.
Nora did not release her arm. She squeezed until her friend looked back at her. “You need to go.”
The vampire’s entrancement battled with Nora’s compulsion, and rage built inside her. She’d already been on edge because of her father’s stranglehold on her life. With the full moon only a night away—a fact this vampire should know—she itched to unleash violence and bloodshed. She would take out her frustration on this fool who thought she was just some young werewolf to dismiss.
She yanked again on Jennifer’s arm, this time swinging her free hand at the vampire’s throat. Her claws should have torn through his flesh, but he took an unhurried step backward.
She should have maimed him.
“Ow,” Jennifer said. “What’s wrong with you?”
“You will draw the attention of the humans,” the vampire said.
“Then step outside.” She felt her canines sharpen, knew her eyes were rimmed in wolf gold.
Jennifer tried to pull free. “I told you I’m fine. You’re starting to piss me off.”
“Do you intend to take her place?” the vampire inquired.
Nora let out a cold laugh and held his gaze.
A heartbeat passed. Then two. Then three.
“You no longer feel safe,” the vampire said. “Go.”
His eyes never left Nora’s, but Jennifer froze. Terror permeated the air, a mouthwatering aroma that made Nora’s mouth ache to bite and to kill.
She let go of Jennifer’s arm this time. Her friend tripped in her haste to flee. She didn’t pause, not even to see if Nora followed.
“You have crossed the line.”
“Then by all means, teach me a lesson.” He stepped aside and motioned to the exit.
She bristled. He was trying to take control, giving her permission to leave the building. Instead of walking to the door, she took two steps and stopped inches in front of him.
“You first,” she said.
His expression didn’t change, but she had the feeling he was laughing when he turned his back on her then pushed open the door.
Her jaw ached, wanting to clamp down on his throat and rip it out. She held in the violence, held in her wolf, and followed him into the alley.
His gaze took her in, head to toe, like he had inside Swirl, but this time he didn’t dismiss her.
“What happened to Jennifer being the most beautiful woman in the place?” She approached him, her hips swaying.
“We are not in the place.” He gestured to the empty alley. “So you will suffice.”
She launched herself at the bastard. Her fist hit his mouth with a satisfying thud. She kicked at his knee, intending to take him to the ground but he was quick and caught her wrist. He swung her hard through the air.
She twisted, tucking her knees to her chest so her feet would hit the wall, not her head, and she pushed off, launching back at him, fingers ready to claw out his fucking eyes.
He plucked her from the air. Slammed her to the ground and knelt there on top of her.
He was so dead.
His hand on her chest held her down. She grabbed it, but he didn’t budge when she tried to push it off, not even when she put her full strength behind the movement.
She almost lost control then, almost let her wolf come out to play. But if she did, her pack would know. She had been blocking them and her father from her thoughts for days, a rare ability in werewolves but one she’d been born with. It took effort to maintain. If she let her guard down, let the pack in and had them rush to her rescue, she would be reinforcing her father’s claim that she needed the pack’s protection.
“Where is your wolf, little one?”
“Be grateful I’m holding her in.” She tried to dislodge his hand again.
“You do not want daddy coming to your rescue?”
She froze. Vampires could read the thoughts of the weak, but she wasn’t weak. He couldn’t get into her head.
“Oh, yes. I know who you are. You are Lehr’s naturally born daughter, a rare, special snowflake used to always getting what she wants.”
Her nails pierced his flesh and still he didn’t release her.
He leaned closer to her face. “What is it you want tonight?”
The deep timbre of his voice caressed her skin. The scent of his blood made her mouth water. He was older than she’d thought, perhaps even one of the Aged. There would be consequences if she killed him.
But there would be consequences if he hurt her.
She released her hold on the hand he was using to pin her down, balled up her fist, then hammered it into the side of his skull.
It was a powerful enough hit to cause his balance to shift. She twisted out from underneath him and rolled to her feet.
He was already standing when she faced him, his posture relaxed, like he’d been in that position forever just waiting for her to finally rise.
“What do you want, snowflake?”
She attacked again. He blocked her first strike, but not the knee she threw into his ribs. That earned her a shove powerful enough to send her to the ground again.
Only for a second. Then she was back up and rushing him again.
No punches or kicks this time. She tackled him. His almost indiscernible oomph said she’d taken him by surprise. She took his back, wrapped her legs around his waist, and squeezed.
If he’d been human, she would have crushed him. But he was vampire and as solid as steel. One hand grabbed her left arm, preventing her from locking it under his chin. His other hand grasped her thigh. His fingers dug in. Then they rose higher.
The rage burning inside her had shifted into something else, something hotter. Something that made her want his fingers to rise closer to the juncture between her legs. He couldn’t reach there though, not with her fastened on to his back like she was.
They rolled once, twice, then again until her back hit the wall of the building that backed up to Swirl. He ducked beneath the arm she was trying to choke him with. It gave him enough room to maneuver, to turn toward her so that she no longer straddled his back; she straddled his front, and she didn’t mind the position. She pressed closer.
His dark eyes locked on hers. A challenge. His expression looked unaffected by her, but she felt his hardness against her, making that ache, that need deepen.
Which would be worse? Killing the bastard and inviting the wrath of the vampires? Or fucking him and inviting the wrath of her father?
“Decisions. Decisions,” the vampire said.
She shoved away from him. She should just leave. Despite the time he took to rise back to his feet, he wanted her. She’d felt his desire pressed against her. It leaked into his aura and into the set of his jaw. Whether that desire was a thirst for her blood or her body, she didn’t know.
He didn’t pursue her. Instead, he walked to the back exit of a shop that shared the alley with Swirl. With one casual punch just above the doorknob, he broke the lock.
The door swung open, inviting her in.
She stared at the dark entryway. The pack would forgive the indiscretion. Werewolves were sexual creatures with needs that needed to be sated. It wasn’t that unusual to smell vampire on a wolf. Her pack mates wouldn’t hold it against her unless it became routine.
But her father would absolutely hate it.
Nora met the vampire’s gaze.
“No blood,” she said.
“Agreed,” came the vampire’s immediate response.
Nora strolled through the door.
To read all the scenes I've written so far, click here.
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