Silhouette Nocturne BITES
Adobe Digital Version
Contains "Broken Souls"
An anthology of Nocturne Bites from Michele Hauf, Karen Whiddon, Lori Devoti, Anna Leonard, Vivi Anna & Bonnie Vanak.
She was forbidden by the Draicon to cast the blood-to-blood spell. But Katia was determined to find her father, and the spell was her only option. The Draicon had taken her into their pack when her own family had been destroyed by the Morphs. But Katia had never given up hope that her father was still alive, and refused to mate for life with her beloved Baylor until she found him. Now Baylor had given her an ultimatum, and Katia was forced to take drastic measures.
But when Katia's spell summoned a Morph claiming to be her father, nothing Baylor said could convince her of the danger. Baylor knew too well the cost of trusting a loved one who'd turned and desperately wanted to save Katia the pain he'd lived with for so long. He also knew that if he spared the Morphy, it would destroy Katia, but if he killed this evil being, he risked losing her love forever.
Copyright 2008 by Bonnie Vanak
Baylor Devereux was working out in the basement gym.
Clad only in navy sweatpants, he danced barefoot about the floor. His knuckles wrapped in white tape, he took jabs at a heavy punching bag. It shuddered and swung from the force of his blows.
Katia hung back, staring. Sweat glistened on the muscles of his arms, and droplets glistened in the dark covering of hair on his heavy chest. She studied his long, athletic limbs and broad shoulders, his curly brown hair tousled, his jaw square and chiseled. Her gaze dropped to his mouth pursed in full concentration. Full and sensual, she knew the pleasure of his long, slow kisses.
He was equally concentrated in kissing as much as he was in fighting. She sensed he’d be equally passionate in bed if she finally surrendered.
Since the death of her destined mate, she’d had other lovers. But Baylor was different than the others because she cared so much about him. Being his lover meant forging a lasting emotional tie. How could she do so when her father might be alive and, thanks to the spell she’d performed twelve hours earlier, he might return and she’d have to leave Baylor behind? Her first duty was to her family.
Muscles and sinew flexed beneath his tanned skin as he flexed his broad shoulders. Katia breathed in his scent, musk, spice and male. Baylor stopped, sidestepping the punch bag. He wiped sweat off his brow with the back of one hand. Then he whipped his head around, his nostrils flaring.
He’d scented her..
She stepped out from the shadows. “I like watching you work out,” she confessed.
His boyish grin tugged at her heart. “I like knowing you like watching.” He picked up a towel, dried off and then slung it around his shoulders as he paced over.
“Are you ready to give me your answer yet, Katia?”
“I still have until Damian’s return,” she reminded him. “I came to ask if you wanted to join me for dinner tonight on my balcony. Your favorite, rare lamb. The moon’s out tonight.”
His eyes lit up and then the gleam faded. “Can’t. I have to patrol. Nicolas wants us to ensure the territory is Morph free.”
Pack leader Damian was in New Orleans, hunting down Jamie, his mate who’d run away after infecting him with a lethal disease. Nicolas, Baylor’s former nemesis and the pack beta who had healed Damian, was temporarily in charge. Days after Damian had killed Kane, the self-appointed Morph leader, little threat existed. But obviously Nicolas wanted to ensure the safety of their people.
A horrible premonition seized her as she remembered others she’d cared about who left and never returned. Something terrible might happen….
“Don’t go out tonight. Tell Nicolas you have to stay in. Protect us at home instead.”
“What is it, Katie?”
“I don’t think it’s safe out there.”
Baylor cupped her face and kissed her forehead. “I have to show Nicolas I’m as loyal as the next male, and that I’m willing to obey.”
Katia tugged at his hand. “Come with me.”
He glanced at the clock on the wall. “I have time only for a shower and then I have to get Ryan. We’re patrolling the northern boundary, the most vulnerable.”
“Then come to my room after you shower. It will take only a minute.”
Baylor gave her a heavy-lidded look. “Only a minute? Sweetheart, not with me.”
He chuckled at her blush and escorted her upstairs.
Half an hour later, he came to her room, his dark curls damp, his face freshly shaved. The neatly pressed gray trousers and black cable-knit sweater made him look polished and urbane. His thick, dark curls were clipped short. He could have an ad for GQ magazine.
Breath caught in Katia’s throat as he gave her a long, lingering kiss. Katia slid her arms about his neck, kissing him back, reluctant to break away.
Finally she did.
Baylor heaved a frustrated sigh. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take,” he muttered, resting his forehead against hers.
Neither do I.
He paced to the window and braced his palms on the sill, staring into the darkness.
“What is it, Baylor? You look worried.”
His gaze darted away to the Elvis poster. “I am. I’m thinking you believe he’s still alive and was abducted by aliens,” he drawled.
Katia burst into laughter. “You’re one to talk. You like Alan Jackson.”
“It’s five o’clock somewhere.”
“And mambo! You’re French and you like Cuban music!”
Baylor did a quick, elegant shuffle of his tasseled loafers. “Good for dancing, senorita.”
A boyish grin touched his mouth as he switched off the player. “I like a lot of music, but all you play is Elvis.”
Her cheery mood evaporated. Katia bit her lip. “I guess because my mother liked his music so much. It must remind me of home and those innocent times.”
“Sweetheart,” he murmured, pulling her into his arms.
She buried her head against his chest, inhaling his masculine scent. “Sometimes, I just miss them all so much,” she whispered.
Wordlessly, he held her, stroking her hair. Katia closed her eyes, feeling the comfort he provided. He was her best friend, but he wanted more.
She wanted to give him more, but couldn’t. Not yet.
Katia pulled out of his embrace. “Your turn. Tell me what’s bothering you.”
“My biggest concern is you.”
“Baylor,” she chided. “Truth between us always, remember?”
He ran a hand through his curls. “Truth always. I wish I could show Nicolas I am loyal to the pack.” He was silent a moment. “I owe him my loyalty.”
“You wouldn’t have said that before,” she pointed out.
Baylor glanced away, looking slightly shame-faced. “You know how I pushed all his buttons, saying things I didn’t mean just to rile him about Maggie. I never fully trusted him. And then Nicolas proved his own loyalty to our pack and Damian. I misjudged him and I was wrong.” He looked troubled. “It’s the second big mistake I’ve made in this pack. The first was far worse.”
“Why do you feel so compelled to prove you’re loyal, Baylor? Nicolas isn’t one to hold a grudge and Damian trusts you.”
A guarded look dropped over him. “Long ago, I exercised poor judgment and it cost the pack. I’ll never do that again. The pack comes first, always. I thought Nicolas would be a danger to us because he was powerful male and an outsider, and I was wrong. If it weren’t for Nicolas healing him, Damian would have died. I apologized to Nicolas, but I don’t want to give him any reason to doubt my loyalty.”
Apologizing to Nicolas took a great deal of courage for someone as proud as Baylor. Katia looked at the thick, dark brows over his piercing gray eyes, his sensual mouth and aristocratic features. Of all their people, he most closely bore the stamp of kinship with Damian.
She picked up a tall white candle.
“I was going to light one of these for my draicaron the night he went out to patrol our territory. We’d just become lovers. I wanted to protect him, but he refused.”
Her lower lip wobbled. “I waited. He never came home to me. H-his was the only body we found. I don’t want anything happening to you, Baylor. Can’t you stay here with us?”
“Sweetheart, I can’t,” he said gently, touching her cheek. “I’ll be fine.”
He felt compelled to prove himself. Fine. She’d coax his loyalty to the surface, and he wouldn’t feel the need to do so.
“Let me light a candle for you,” she urged.
“If it makes you feel better.”
Baylor watched as she lit the candle, and chanted in a low voice. The flame burned brightly, casting his face in eerie light. When she finished, he drew her into his arms. She nestled against his broad chest.
“Katia, I’ve waited so long for you.”
“I know you’ve been patient. You’re so good to me, Baylor, and I care so much for you, but I have to find my father first.”
Katia drew back, feeling him tense.
“Your father is gone. You must accept this.”
“Accept that I lost my entire family?”
"I lost my whole family as well,” he said quietly. “But Damian’s pack is our family now. Your father is dead.”
“Damian is your cousin. I have no one,” she whispered.
“You have all of us. We’re your family now. You take care of the pack.”
“But it’s not the same. If I could find my father…”
“It’s not just that, Katia. Why do you really want to find him?”
To beg his forgiveness for my cowardice.
“Please, let’s drop it.”
Baylor sniffed the air, his look turning to one of anticipation. “I have to go,” he said absently. “Time to patrol.”
“You should eat first to replenish your magick. And I thought you had to wait for Ryan.”
“No time for dinner. Ryan will catch up with me.”
He kissed her hard, and then raced off. She heard him run down the hallway.
Had the spell she cast been too powerful? It was obvious Baylor was eager to flush out any enemy. But what if he proved himself by acting reckless?
Katia fled to the French doors, flung them open and stepped onto her balcony. A silver wash of moonlight spilled over the open field below. She saw Baylor run out of the lodge, waving his hands and making his clothing vanish.
A strong wolf stood where the man had.
“Come back to me,” she whispered, watching him run off with the night. “Please. Don’t be like my family and never return. Don’t you dare die on me.”