Condemned to darkness…tempted by passion.
, Book 4
Enslaved by a vengeful goddess, forced to live on blood, Lucan can barely remember life as a knight of the Round Table. Yet when one woman’s touch awakens millennium-old feelings that tame the savage darkness within him, he has no choice but to deny their all-consuming passion—for her own protection.
Cat shifter Briana Callaghan has watched all three of her brothers find their mates, but love isn’t in her future. Especially when her mate turns out to be a lethal mercenary…and the only man ever to break her heart.
When she’s chosen to compete in the Gauntlet, an immortal death match, Briana realizes the prize—the sword Excalibur—is her only hope of severing the fierce bond that has the power to destroy her.
Stunned to find themselves pitted against each other, Briana and Lucan quickly find that the only thing they’re fighting harder than their enemies is their sizzling, heartbreaking chemistry. But even if they survive the Gauntlet, claiming the woman he loves will be as impossible as letting her go.
Product WarningsContains adult language, skin-tingling sexual tension over a thousand years in the making, and a brutal warrior unable to resist the only woman to appeal to both the man and the monster within.
Copyright © 2013 Sydney Somers
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
The door hadn’t even shut and her mouth was beneath his. He wasn’t sure who reached for the other first—didn’t care. Once he anchored his hands in her hair, as though it could keep him grounded somehow, he cared only about memorizing the drugging taste of her, the way her lips parted eagerly under his.
Not even the ambrosia he’d drunk from the Grail on the day he became one of Arthur’s immortal knights tasted as incredible as Briana’s kiss.
The voice that cautioned him something was wrong was little more than a whisper now, drowned out by the roar of an ocean during a rising storm.
A silky murmur of approval hummed in her throat, and he pushed his tongue into her mouth, stroking deep. Her fingers slid beneath his shirt, skimming his stomach.
He groaned. “I promised your brother—”
“That my clothes would stay on,” she finished for him. “Nobody said anything about yours.” She yanked off his shirt.
She ran her palms up his chest. Pure feminine satisfaction sparked in her eyes. His own slid shut at the lazy exploration, her nails lightly raking on her second pass.
“Briana—” He bit down to silence the fierce demand she not play with him. He didn’t know how much he could take.
She stilled. “Haven’t you craved my touch?” She massaged the back of his neck before sinking her fingers into the ends of his hair, tugging just hard enough to make sure he was paying attention.
Had Excalibur itself materialized next to him he couldn’t have looked away from her.
She nipped his jaw. “Has wanting to touch me again never crossed your mind?”
“It’s never been far from it.”
Her cat showed in her eyes, and then she leaned in to seal her mouth over his. Need jack-knifed through him, and he locked his arms around her. With her body flush against him there was no longer a need to imagine the warmth of her skin, the softness, the sweetness—forbidden thoughts that haunted his dreamless sleep.
She somehow edged closer, her thigh sliding between his, and then there was nothing soft or sweet about his thoughts. Once more they revolved about her nails sinking into his bare back as he sank into her.
Hands in her hair, he pressed into her welcoming body, letting her know exactly how hard he was for her. She nipped his jaw, his ear, his bottom lip, pulling him into her mouth and sucking hard enough he ached to see her on her knees, sucking something far more sensitive.
Slipping his hands down to her ass, he lifted her off her feet, grinding her against the length of him.
“Luc…” The rest of her words were lost as he recaptured her mouth, sliding his tongue between her lips as slowly as he let her body slide back to the ground.
She tipped her head to the side, inviting him to tease a slow path to her shoulder.
The pounding of her pulse echoed in his head, and he lingered over the sweet spot. He dragged his teeth along her skin, rocked by a wave of hunger so intense it nearly dropped him to his knees.
Gods, he needed so much from her. So much.
The moment his fangs pricked her flesh, Briana whimpered, and he froze.
No! Fighting the ferocious need to hold onto her, he spun around.
She cut off his retreat, surprising him.
“I need to go.” He could feel the hunger invading every cell in his body, taking over. Where the hunger pulsed the deepest, the monster within him stirred. Lucan could again feel its interest in Briana when only blood and death ever appealed to that part of him.
She shook her head. “You can’t leave.”
“If you knew the thoughts running through my head you wouldn’t be standing in my way.” Thoughts he’d be wise to share, if only to make her understand. To make her run. If he lost control…
“You want to drink from me.” No fear or revulsion. Only…curiosity? “Don’t deny it.”
He wanted far more than just her blood. Always had. Which was why he needed to get as far from her as he could. He hadn’t dared touch her in centuries for fear of the consequences. If anything happened to her…
He should have left her with Tristan.
All too aware of the darkness pushing closer to the surface, Lucan made a move to go around her.
She growled, blocking his path once more. “You swore to keep me safe.”
“I thought you didn’t need my protection?”
Briana edged toward him like the lethal predator carefully buried beneath gorgeous blue eyes pleading with him to stay. “But the one thing I can’t protect myself from is you.”
He closed his eyes, his hands clenched tight at his sides. “Right now I pose the biggest threat.”
“Bigger than you think.” She touched his face, her palm cool on his overheating skin.
He hissed out a breath.
“Your eyes are nearly black, Luc. How far do you think you’d get before the madness drives you back to me?”
Fear, cold and sharp punched through his chest. It wasn’t losing himself that he feared as much as the wraith’s rising interest in Briana.
For years after Rhiannon had enslaved him—changed him—he’d been unaware of exactly what she’d done. He’d wake to the aftermath of destruction the wraith had unleashed when Lucan lost control, no longer able to fight the compulsion to follow Rhiannon’s orders.
As the centuries went by he’d learned to recognize the monster’s presence, its awareness. It’s determination.
And right now the wraith was determined to be close to Briana.
“If you give in now, you won’t lose control,” she pressed.
“You don’t know that.” The words were like blistering rocks in his throat.
Her lips whispered over his, her gaze reassuring. “And you don’t know that I’m wrong.”
He shook his head. “What you’re asking…” He couldn’t bring himself to finish that thought aloud. She couldn’t possibly understand that if he opened that door, he couldn’t guarantee she wouldn’t get hurt.