hair as she yelled his name with those perfectly full lips of hers. And man, did Princess have a set of eyes. But there was a look of pure fight underneath the chocolate-brown surface as she glared at him, the look of a female warrior.

A warrior who’d taken a nice big bite out of his arm with her canines and nearly escaped him twice. With his half-wolf blood, he healed pretty quickly, but given the strength of her teeth in wolf form, that bitch of a wound would take a lot longer than usual to heal.

He inhaled a deep breath. He needed to get hold of himself and clear his head, erase the burn pulsating through him. She was a werewolf, and he knew very well that whether she was an Alpha or an Omega female, she was nothing but trouble and seduction. The first female he’d encountered in all his years of hunting—his attraction to her shouldn’t have been a surprise, right? This must be how it had been for his father when he’d met the female werewolf who’d proven so irresistible that he’d left Jace’s human mother for her. It was meant to be.

The image of his mother’s tearstained face crossed his mind. She was sitting at the kitchen table of their shabby apartment, her head buried in her hands. He heard the boiling pot on the stove hiss as the contents overflowed. Potato soup. One of the only things they could afford after his dad walked out.

His father was weak, and there was no way in hell he would let himself follow suit.

Jace’s mind snapped to the present, and his gaze narrowed into a thin glare. “Don’t even think of trying to escape again.”

Slowly he eased off her, hand on his gun and knife still at the ready. Between the woman, the weapons and the prospect of her shifting into a wolf again, he seriously had his hands full.

“Get up,” he said. “Any sudden movement and a bullet is coming straight for you.”

She carefully rose to her feet, and the few shadows cast on her naked frame disappeared, revealing an even better view of her beauty. Jace kept the gun aimed as he stepped behind her.

With his knife held to her throat again, he holstered his gun, though his body screamed for him to caress her. He gripped her shoulder and drew her toward him.

Jace swore under his breath. His eyes had been treated to a prime-time view of her sweet behind, and his palm itched to touch her. He swallowed the large lump in his throat and tried to control himself. She was a damn werewolf. What was wrong with him?

He reached to his belt clip and pulled out a pair of silver cuffs. He always carried them, though he’d never needed them until now. “You know the drill. Hands behind your back, before I change my mind and kill you.”

“You’re lucky I didn’t rip your throat out, asshole.” She thrust her hands behind her, careful not to lean into his knife at her throat.

Despite her words, his dick jerked again as her smooth, feminine voice hit his ears like the call of a siren.

“This is ridiculous,” she growled.

No argument there. Ridiculous didn’t even begin to cover it. Fucked up beyond comprehension was more like it.

He slapped the cuffs on. She groaned in pain as the metal rubbed her skin. Jace’s heart panged at the sound of her agony, but his anger and frustration spiked, and self-loathing filled his mind. Aside from the fact that he didn’t hurt women, why was he being so merciful?

He shifted his dagger to his left hand. Stepping toward her, he lifted the blade to her throat and grabbed her around the waist, pulling her to him. But as his hand made contact with the skin of her stomach, every instinct in him fired. An electric charge surged up his arms and through his whole body.

Instinctively, he held her closer, and her fine ass pushed against him, nearly sending him over the edge. A low growl drummed in his throat. He tilted the knife farther, leaning her neck into him until he buried his face in her long hair. The smell of gardenias flooded his nose, and he couldn’t hold himself back from wanting her.

* * *

ROBERT LINGERED IN the shadows of the alley amidst the Dumpsters and the trash left behind by the resident lowlifes. He slipped through the darkness with the subtlety of a skilled predator. When he’d finished carving his latest masterpiece from his worthless slew of whores, he’d stuck around, and not just for his usual grind with his pale-faced pussy.

He stared down the alley. His gaze locked on to Jace and the werewolf bitch. He watched as Jace tightened the silver handcuffs he’d slipped on her wrists. What the hell was Jace’s problem? Why hadn’t he killed her yet? Robert’s blood simmered, and an impatient grin crossed his face as he waited for the moment to come. Would Jace take her like he took his whores? There were few things he would love more than to see Jace bloody his hands. The image of the mutt’s blood soaking Jace’s clothing as he loomed over her mutilated body crept into Robert’s mind, and he felt his dick stiffen. She would be so sweet lying cold and still beneath him.

Long moments passed, and Robert waited in anticipation. Still nothing. What sort of game was Jace playing? After several more moments, when the weak bastard didn’t even give the bitch so much as a paper cut, a feeling of annoyance passed through Robert. He frowned as Jace led her from the alley. Jace was weak, pathetic. Nothing but another crying, bleeding heart.

Fine. If Jace refused to serve as his added amusement for the evening, something else would.

Once Robert heard the hunter and the were-bitch retreat, he wandered through the alley until he found what he was looking for: the bitch’s scent. For fourteen blocks he followed her smell, finally ending up at a nondescript apartment building. He picked the lock with ease, a trick his father taught him when he was five. He strolled nonchalantly up two flights of stairs until he reached an apartment door that reeked of her too-sweet stench. The smell infected him, seeping into his skin like an airborne poison. After unlatching the door with his pick, he slipped inside and flipped on the lights.

A small one-bedroom apartment: nothing but a four-poster bed, a bathroom, a tiny kitchen and some random pieces of furniture. He walked over to a nearby desk and gazed at several of the pictures. He picked up one of an older middle-aged couple posed together with a young girl in front of them, smiling for the camera. The bitch and her family.

Just fucking heartwarming.

He dropped the picture and watched the glass scatter across the floor. He picked up one of the shards and pressed the flesh of his thumb against the point. A sharp pain pierced his skin, and he savored the feeling as he admired the drop of blood emerging from the wound.

Nothing interesting in this apartment, not even...

He caught sight of a flashing red light. He turned to find an old-style answering machine attached to a landline. He pressed the play button.

“You have one unheard message. First message,” said the automated female voice.

The voice was quickly followed by a momentary rustling before a man’s voice came through the line. “Frankie? Frankie? It’s me. Please, pick up.” The voice paused. “Ay dios. Our mating ceremony was supposed to start an hour ago and...”

Robert stopped listening as a slow grin spread across his face. Frankie? He let out a low chuckle at his sheer luck.

Rochester’s packmaster. Jace really was playing games after all.


JACE WAS SCREWED, so totally screwed. He slammed the door to his black H3 and moved to the driver’s side of the Hummer. Reaching for the handle, he silently cursed himself and wondered what the hell his problem was. Catch and kill. That had always been his philosophy when it came to hunting. Never once had he let one of those monsters live. Until now.

He climbed into the car and closed the door behind him. Glancing in the rearview mirror, he saw her wiggling in the backseat, naked breasts swaying as she fumbled against the cuffs. He shifted his weight, and his erection pressed against his pants. As much as he wanted to succumb to her beauty and the electricity that flowed

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