His darkest secret could be her only hope.
Moon, Magic, Madness Book 1
Tessa Archer is sick of sitting on the sidelines of life, but the man she’s just met on her first Caribbean cruise is way out of her comfort zone. He’s dazzlingly handsome, compelling…and she swears she can hear his voice in her head before he speaks.
When Nathan Barcza touches Tessa’s hand, the jolt of recognition is unmistakable—and impossible. Werewolves mate only once—for life—and his mate was murdered by the creature he hunts, a Pithcus that hides somewhere aboard this ship. This is his final chance for vengeance.
The last thing he can afford is any distraction, but the siren call of Tessa’s open heart is irresistible. It also makes her a target of the creature who’s had a taste of her and wants more. To save her, Nate will have to unleash his last secret in a confrontation with no hope of survival.
For if the Pithcus doesn’t kill him, Nate’s partner is under orders to finish the job…
Product WarningsContains a smoldering, sex-on-a-stick werewolf hero afraid to love again and a seriously annoyed heroine who can't figure out how she ended up as an appetizer on what feels like a raw-foods reality horror show. Includes graphic violence, explicit language, smoking-hot sex, squeeze-your-heart emotions and humor.
Copyright © 2011 Vanessa Jaye
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Nate prowled the deck, hemmed in. He wanted to bound across the boards, leap through the air, call down the moon. Instead he was held prisoner by human eyes and the boundaries of this floating village. Irritation rumbled in his chest as the fragrance of the humans drifted to him on the night breeze and his nostrils flared…tantalized.
First came the artificial scents of soaps, perfumes, detergents, then the base notes rose from beneath the thin shields the norms masked themselves with—richer odors that spoke of darker enticements, of flesh, sweat, blood—
Nate clamped his hands to his head and tried to block the thoughts that burrowed into his brain. He would not let the creature’s taint overcome him.
The Elders had given him a warning before sending him out with his possible executioner—Mitch.
“To win you must not only defeat the Pithcus, for it is but a walking corruption of our world, you must also beware the evil rooted inside you.”
To supplement Nate’s atrophied strength, Alejandro had mixed his own blood with a variety of plants that only grew in the sacred depths of the jungle. It was a mixture that would either give Nate the ability to take on the Pithcus. Or kill him.
Without hesitation, Nate had drunk the potion and barely survived the wrenching pain that twisted every sinew and bone in his body or the foul retching that erupted from his guts, clenching his heart to a stop for long minutes.
As the weeks progressed, his health and powers slowly returned and another more dangerous plan formed in his head. With his recovery and training complete, he and Mitch had commenced their hunt, not knowing if they’d ever catch up to the Pithcus.
Then the first sign of the creature almost eight months later had provided Nate with the opportunity he needed to put his plan in action. When Mitch’s attention had been elsewhere, he’d tasted from the wounds of that first victim; lapped up the corruption and felt it slide deep into his soul. And his strength had increased, as it had with each subsequent victim he’d repeated his actions with.
Whatever powers Alejandro had bestowed on Mitch, Nate doubted they were enough to kill the Pithcus. He wasn’t even sure they were enough to defeat him in a fight now. Not that he was planning on fighting the big cat. He’d kneel to Mitch’s judgment if it became necessary.
Until then Nate was much better prepared to deal with the Pithcus, and the next time they met, he’d send it into the waiting arms of the devil.
Anticipation roiled through his blood and he moved farther down the deck, away from the humans who were out enjoying the evening, safe in their ignorance.
Away from the growing temptation.
But as he moved from one temptation he was drawn to another more potent one. A scent drifted to him, familiar and delicate. Irresistible.
A solitary figure leaned against the rail, her profile etched in moonlight while strands of her pale hair lifted behind her as if nighttime faeries were playing with them. Nate’s fingers curled, wanting to touch and to hold. Wanting to keep.
She stiffened and he knew she sensed him, then she turned and their eyes met. Now all he knew was the need to be closer—the relentless drive to taste, to keep, to mate.
He didn’t understand the compulsion, why it appeared now. Five long years and he thought the craving had died with Beth’s last breath. Guilt pierced him, so fast and deep he couldn’t steel himself against it, but the ripples it left were faint against the drag on his senses caused by this woman.
Nate moved to stand in front of her, just out of reach. Tessa wore a thin knit top that clung softly to her slight curves. The same breeze that played through her hair pressed the fabric against her body, faithfully outlining the two erect buds that tipped the crest of each breast. Her nipples were prominent and lush, made to be suckled and caressed. As the thought came to him, her tips grew harder. She crossed her arms in front of her and raised her chin.
“I’m surprised how chilly it gets at night,” she said. A fine tremor ran through her husky voice and echoed in her frame.
Lady, you ain’t cold. You’re hot.
Burning with the same fire that flickered inside him. The difference was, while he found it a nuisance, she feared it. She fears me. But she was still here.
Of course! He got a moment of clarity, of what had happened this morning between them. He’d never discovered a newbie before. All his previous interactions were with someone already established within the tribes or vetted by another shifter.
But there was a first time for everything and here was Tessa, his own little telepathic discovery. She was obviously a companion to his kind—norms able to serve shifters—she just didn’t know it yet.
If he walked away right now she might never know.
“You shouldn’t be out here.”
Her gaze settled on his mouth as he spoke and Nate allowed a slight smile as he responded to her thoughts. “Yes, my lips moved this time.”
“And the last time?” she whispered.
Tessa continued to stare at his mouth, and while the fear still trembled over her limbs, a flame of curiosity had been lit.
Nate read her thoughts, saw the dilation of her pupils as she licked her lips and felt his body tighten. He reminded himself this didn’t have to go any further.
But how much knowledge could she handle?
How much did she want?
“And the last time you heard me.”
Tessa searched his face and Nate saw himself as she saw him—shadows painting sharp angles on his face and moonlight flashing silver in his gaze.
He read her thoughts, again, before she spoke.