City of Lights Series Book 1
Sometimes it's harder to be together than it is to be apart.
Rabb is an alpha shifter, a werewolf, who likes to defy both the odds and authority. He prefers the city lights over the open spaces most shifters enjoy.
Brant is a politician with a secret that's becoming harder and harder to contain. As mayor of Bright City, he's determined to keep the city free of shifters to protect his secret.
The two men share a fair amount of distrust, along with a smoldering history that threatens to drag them under again. But when shifters begin to die in Bright City, Rabb and Brant need to find a way to work together again. Especially when one of them inadvertently steps right into the murderer's deadly path.
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Two hours of a raging hard-on he couldn’t possibly ignore.
Brant’s hands resting lightly on his thighs didn’t help. Or the soft wash of his breath bathing the back of Rabb’s neck. At least Brant couldn’t hear the embarrassing thud of Rabb’s heart beneath his ribs. The husky roar of the bike saved Rabb some serious embarrassment on that score.
He pulled the bike alongside a line of cars, trucks, and bikes and stopped. The silence that met their ears when he killed the engine seemed almost louder than the throaty rumble of his Yamaha.
Cricket song throbbed through the velvet black night, driven past on a soft breeze that carried the scent of shifters. Lots of them. Rabb looked at Brant. “Whatever happens, stay close to me.”
Brant’s handsome face looked ghostly in the moonlight. “That isn’t exactly reassuring.”
Rabb shrugged, grinning wickedly. “Maybe I’m trying to keep you close for other reasons.”
Brant laughed. “Yeah, I wouldn’t put it past you.”
They left the small spot of flattened grass that served as the parking area and moved into the trees. Though dense and claustrophobic, the forest wasn’t as uniform as it appeared from the road. They followed a narrow, path worn into dirt by shifters and their prey. Looking close, Rabb could see small signs of the packs’ passing. Small, broken limbs and mashed vegetation told a story only the most observant would recognize.
The night enveloped them. The woods seemed empty until Rabb tuned his senses to it, tapping into an entire ecosystem that was replete with warm and cold blooded inhabitants of all shapes and sizes.
The air between the trees was cool and damp and the earth beneath their shoes was rich with the scent of all the decades that had passed before.
Rabb focused on all of it, while keeping one ear on Brant, making sure he stayed close. He hadn’t been teasing the other man, or trying to score, he was worried about bringing him there. The pack wouldn’t appreciate his bringing an enemy to their most sacred place. In fact it was a pretty sure bet they’d be royally pissed. Rabb would be the only thing standing between Brant and a painful eviction.
Secrets lived long and prospered in the running grounds. Enemies were extinguished, soul and body, there. Mistakes were permanently obscured. And grudges were laid to rest, along with the losers.
Rabb would have his hands full keeping Brant from becoming a permanent part of the landscape.
They hadn’t gone far before Rabb smelled wood smoke. He stopped, throwing out a hand to halt Brant. “Stay behind me and keep your mouth shut. No matter what.” He turned and fixed the other man with a warning look. “Understand?”
Brant nodded but his expression held far too much arrogance for Rabb’s comfort. “I mean it, Brant. There are no laws here except pack law. You’re in our territory now. I’m the only insurance you have that you’ll walk out of here tonight.”
Brant crossed arms over chest, belligerent. “Which totally explains why you insisted I bring no guards.”
“I had no choice, fang. One look at your conglomeration of black suited thugs and this would have been a blood bath.”
Brant glared at him. Rabb could deal with that. It was the pinpoint of fear in the icy gaze that did him in. “Look, you’re just going to have to trust me. The pack is understandably jumpy right now. Someone is targeting us and when that happens we tend to contract and isolate. You’re not pack so you’ll be suspect. They aren’t going to care that we slept together once. A long time ago.”
“It was a hell of a lot more than once,” Brant offered.
“You know what I mean.”
They stared hard at each other for another minute and then Brant finally sighed. “Okay. I’m trusting you with my life, wolf. Let’s see if you can take better care of it than you took with my heart.”
Rabb felt the sting of that remark all the way to his gut. But it wasn’t the time or place to get into it. “I’ll do as well as you’ll let me. Just like last time.”
He turned away and started forward, not wanting to give Brant the chance to say anything else. Their past was their past and he really didn’t want to rehash it—now or ever. Some relationships just weren’t meant to be.
Theirs was apparently one of them.
Golden firelight danced through the trees as Rabb emerged into a small clearing. The fire raged at the center of the space, filling the sky with soft, gray smoke. Dozens of people stood around the flame, their faces blank and their muscles taut with anger.
On the ground next to the blaze was a slim form, wrapped in a blanket. Kneeling on the ground next to the woman was her mate, his head bowed. He was covered in blood, most likely some of it hers, and his big hands were clenched in tight fists at his sides.
As Rabb stepped out all heads turned in his direction. Almost immediately, faces softened, legs buckled, and several shifters hit the ground, prostrate with grief. A soft keening sound filled the night. One of the women sobbed, her head dropping back on the heartfelt sound.
Rabb was their alpha. Pack law said they showed no emotion until the time was right. Until all was in place. With Rabb’s arrival the pack could begin the grieving process. They wasted no time.
Brant stepped out behind him and the mood changed with the swiftness of a hatchet slamming into wood. Tension pulsed across the space, hitting Rabb with the fierceness of actual violence.
Slowly, in movements borne of exquisite pain, the mate of the slain woman stood and turned. His bloodied face was purple with rage, his hard eyes bright with it. His gaze found Brant and his jaw worked, the vein at the side of his throat throbbing with rage. “Good. You brought us a sacrifice. Let the blood feast begin.” He turned to the waiting shifters. “Tonight, let the woods fill with the sound of screams and the scent of death as we avenge our fallen packmate.”
Rabb’s muscles tightened, ready to fight if he had to. He’d known it was coming but even he was shocked by the swiftness with which it occurred. As the entire pack moved forward, all eyes fixed on Brant, the only sound Rabb heard was the startled gulp of the vampire standing at his back.
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