Authors: Ellis Leigh
CLAIMING HIS FATE
The First Book in the Feral Breed Series
Rebel Lynch has spent two hundred years searching for balance between his human side and his inner wolf. As a den President of The Feral Breed Motorcycle Club, a lack of control over the beast within isn't just a pain in the ass, it's a death sentence. One served by his club brothers: the judges, jury, and executioners of the wolf-shifting community.
At Amnesia Gentlemen’s Club, customers and staff check their real-world identities at the door. Charlotte, one of the club's best waitresses, ditched her legit career in corporate IT because she needs the kind of income those pesky IRS folks can’t track. When the smart-mouthed bombshell pulls a gig serving a private party, she expects nothing more than a few extra tips. That is until dirty-talking Rebel Lynch strolls into the room looking like sin incarnate, flashing motorcycle club colors, and blasting Charlotte's expectations about work, life, and love straight to hell. Or is it heaven? Rebel's throaty growl sure as heck sends her soaring...
One glance at Charlotte and Rebel knows she's his fated mate. But a wolf shifter is attacking women at the club, threatening Charlotte’s life, and putting the entire shifter community at risk of exposure. Rebel and his Feral Breed MC brothers must find the crazed shifter before he strikes again. If Rebel can't uncover the new monster in their midst—and learn to rein in the protective instincts of a fully mated Alpha—his future with Charlotte will be dead on arrival.
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“Feral Breed Boston, what say ye?”
The president of the Boston den stood and nodded his respect. “Down two, sir. Both to matings.”
Blaze acknowledged the response with a nod. The crowd in the meeting hall at Merriweather Fields conversed in whispers and growls, typical behavior during the quarterly club check-in.
“Look at these dens, losing members left and right to the love bite.” Scab upended his mug and guzzled the remaining ale. Most of it, at least. Some ran down the sides of his mouth and onto his shirt.
Jameson, President of the Four Corners den, gave a low growl. “Matings are sacred and should be treated as such.”
Scab belched. “If they’re so sacred, there wouldn't be the rule where the new couple goes to fuck for three days while we guard their lazy asses and listen to everything they do.”
“Scab,” I warned, my wolf giving a throaty growl at our errant denmate. The dumbass was pushing buttons he should have known better than to play with. The Rites of Klunzad were older than the majority of the countries on the current world map. They were rules and ceremonies surrounding the sacred bonding of a wolf shifter and their mate, handed down from generation to generation. Scab couldn’t understand the pureness of the union, the level of respect that’s to be given when the blessed joining occurs.
Nor could Scab grasp how much of a bad idea it was to rile the Four Corners president.
“Please,” Scab said, addressing me and ignoring Jameson. A stupid move on his part. “Like you didn't get hard listening to that guy from the Hollywood den and the fat whore he mated with? All that ‘Oh, yes, Daddy. Do it harder, spank me, yes. Get it, Daddy, get it.’ I was hard for a week. Must have jacked to that soundtrack a hundred times so far. Bitch had the ass of a rhino, but it sure sounded like her cunt was—”
The crash of Jameson's fist into Scab's face brought a little attention our way, but not nearly as much as we would have garnered in a room full of humans. Wolf shifters were used to a show of violence now and again, especially our group. The protectors of our species. The Feral Breed Motorcycle Club.
Jameson sat back with a snarl and reached for his drink.
I pointed my beer bottle at Scab’s prone form. “You realize Blaze is going to take a stripe out of your ass for that.” I knew why Jameson had hit the wretch, but that didn’t mean Blaze would appreciate the distraction during den updates.
Borzohn wolves like Jameson, the ones born as shifters into a family pack, put much stock in the centuries-old traditions their elders taught. He honored them. But those such as Scab, the Anbizen or turned ones, grew up in the human world. They usually had no patience for the antiquated ideals of packs long decimated by war and prejudice. They didn’t understand the peace brought to a shifter by a proper mating.
Of course, not all Anbizen scoffed at the old ways. Some of us respected the rites as much as the Borzohn wolves did. But the Borzohn had the advantage of growing up sharing their body with the wolf inside. They tended to balance the man and wolf better than us Anbizen.
“Feral Breed Buffalo, what say ye?” Blaze glanced our way but continued through the den roll.
Jameson curled his lip. “Boss man can take as many stripes as he wants. Scab here should be happy I was the one who got to him. Had any of the Hollywood den overheard his comment about their beloved pack sister, your pet Anbizen would be stuck in the med unit here at the Fields for the next month.” He gave me a wicked grin. “And if her mate had heard him, Scab would be dead by now.”
“There's no denying that. You never fuck with a wolf's mate.”
We clinked our bottles in response. The belief that mates were more than just bed warmers or broodmares was something we agreed on. Mates were pure souls amongst savages—the angels to our demon nature. Even female wolf shifters had an honor code when it came to their male mates. Especially female shifters—those bitches were brutal when provoked.
“Feral Breed Four Corners, what say ye?”
Jameson stood and nodded once at Blaze, the National President of the Feral Breed Motorcycle Club, leader of the National Association of the Lycan Brotherhood or NALB, and the closest thing we had to a pack leader. Basically, Blaze was the man with the biggest balls in the room.
“No losses, sir. Our club is static at forty-six members split evenly between a northern and southern den.”
“And the denhouse in Flagstaff? Have the repairs been completed?”
Jameson paused. The grinding of his teeth coincided with the way he curled his hands into fists. “Not yet, sir. I expect completion within two weeks.”
Blaze peered at Jameson from the dais at the front of the room. “Have the vandals been located?”
“We're still tracking them, sir,” Jameson bit out, hair sprouting at the back of his neck as he fought his shift. The wolf in him had to be boiling mad. It was an inherent risk when being in a room full of Alpha wolves. The slightest challenge could set off a violent outburst. That's why the club-style leadership of our individual regions worked so well. Voted presidents such as Jameson and myself, vice presidents, Sergeants-at-Arms… every man had his job and his place. It kept the violence to a minimum.
Plus our wolves got off on the feeling of riding a motorcycle. There was a freedom to it, something impossible to duplicate when stuck inside a box on wheels. If we couldn’t four-paw a trip, we wanted to do it on two wheels with nothing separating our senses from the world around us.
But place us in a room filled with other teams and the leader of the whole wolf population of North America? Even the strongest shifter would have trouble keeping his wolf at bay.
“I want them found, Jameson. They have desecrated a den of the Feral Breed. I desire justice.”
Jameson offered Blaze a tight nod. “No more than I do, sir.”
Blaze stood quiet for a moment, his eyes hard and locked with Jameson's. My wolf perked up at the tension between the two. He pushed his way to the front of my mind, ears pricked and eyes watchful. My hand gripped the bottle tighter as the human side of me prepared for a mental fight. I couldn’t get involved if Jameson challenged Blaze. Doing so could mean death or banishment, depending upon the outcome of the battle. But my wolf liked to jump into a good fight, and he had a tendency to do so whether my human side agreed or not.
When Jameson dropped his gaze and sat down, so did my wolf, the mangy fucker. I set my bottle on the table and opened my hand, stretching the tendons. My skin burned under my jeans and leather cut. Had Jameson not submitted when he did, my joints would be aching with the need to shift.
Giving myself over to my wolf form was the easiest way to relieve the tension racing through my veins, though it was not my preferred method. I’d need another hit of The Draught or a bit of balls-deeping before the night was over if I had any hope of staying in my human form.
“Moving on,” Blaze said. “Feral Breed Great Lakes, what say ye?”
I stood and offered Blaze a nod, fighting not to vocalize the snarl my wolf gave our leader. “Sir, we have no losses to report this quarter. We’ve added two new wolves to our club, bringing our membership to forty-two shifters divided into eastern and western divisions.”
Blaze glanced down at his notes. “I see the two additions are recently turned Anbizen wolves. How are they assimilating?”
I glanced at Scab, still unconscious on the floor. I wouldn’t have called his turning recent; he’d been a shifter for nearly sixty years. But an ancient such as Blaze would certainly view the years a bit differently than his human counterpart.
“They’re learning their places, sir.”
Blaze's brow furrowed until he followed my gaze to the lump of man on the floor. He grimaced. “Yes, well, some men take longer than others.”
He shuffled his papers, humming for a moment until he found what he was looking for. “There's been a report of a woman turning up at a Milwaukee hospital with claw marks on her body. Just the one case so far, and she claims to not remember what caused the injury. But it’s enough to garner the attention of the local NALB regional head. I'd like your team to head there and investigate the issue. Make sure we don't have a man-eating nomad on our hands.”
“Of course, sir. I can roll out my team as soon as the meeting is through.”
“With the location so close to the Fields, I would find it allowable for you and your den members to be excused from the meeting early. I can have Half Trac send you the final meeting notes.” His eyes locked on mine, causing a low whine to escape my throat. My wolf may have been dominant by nature, but his dominance didn’t compare to that of a shifter such as Blaze. With six hundred-plus years of life behind him, Blaze had more than twice as much time as I did honing his power and aggression.
Not wanting to start a challenge, I broke eye contact. “Whatever you require.”
“Perfect. Thank you, Rebel.” He grunted and looked down to the papers stacked on the podium. “Feral Breed Heartland, what say ye?”
I shot a look over to my Sergeant-at-Arms, a man who went by the road name Gates. He gave me a quick nod before he turned and exited the room. No doubt he’d collect the rest of my men, minus the still unconscious Scab. The brothers of my den were strong and efficient; they’d be ready to hit the road as soon as I said “ride.” Milwaukee sat only an hour north of Merriweather Fields, a giant colonial-style mansion northwest of Chicago. We’d be investigating before nightfall.
“Who's claimed the Milwaukee territory?” Jameson asked. “Is it still Ehrman?”
“Sure is. The old coot probably turned some college kid and forgot. At least that's what happened last time.”
“You think Blaze will let him keep the city if that's what happened this time?”
I shrugged. “Not sure, but I doubt it. Blaze isn’t a real bloodthirsty leader, but he's still not one to let his wolves get out of control. If the old man can't handle the territory, it’ll be turned over.”
“Isn't Ehrman the one who lost his mate in some kind of territory dispute?”
“Yeah.” My lip curled in a snarl, echoed in my mind by my wolf side. “Group of nomads banded together and snuck into the area. Killed off three mates and two wolves before Ehrman’s guys could stop them.”
“On both sides.”
No civilized shifter would wish the death of a mate on another. And the repercussions were usually brutal and swift, the widowed mate’s rage fueling them to a level of strength legendary amongst our kind. I wasn’t sure who the poor bastard in the situation would be—the shifter who’d lost his mate or the ones who’d taken her life.
Scab’s groaning interrupted my thoughts.
“You know, Jameson, next time you might want to go easy on the poor fellow.”
Jameson laughed. “And what fun would that be?”
“Not a whole hell of a lot.” I grinned and finished my beer.
Scab finally pulled himself to his feet, his club cut askew, and one hell of a nasty bruise appearing on his jaw. As shifters, we healed faster than human men and were pretty damned hard to kill. But a full-strength punch from a fellow wolf shifter was enough to do some damage.
Scab spit on the floor and glared at Jameson as Gates approached. With his black hair and bright blue eyes, Gates tended to wear the “pretty boy” moniker. But he was trained to kill in more ways than I could count, and his wolf was a strong tactician, which was why I’d named him Sergeant-at-Arms. Fighter, enforcer, and the man who kept the rest of our members in line—that was Gates’ role.
“The team’s ready to roll out.”
I nodded toward Scab. “Throw his sled in the back of the war wagon and make him follow us up. I don't want to have to explain the loss of a member due to his own idiocy.”
Gates smirked, a rare sight on the normally stoic shifter. “Understood.”
He grabbed Scab by the arm and half-dragged him from the meeting room. Idiot that he was, Scab cursed and blubbered the entire way. I’d have to do something soon to knock the attitude out of him. He’d been pushing the limits of respect for too long, and I’d let him get away with it because I understood the battle between man and wolf in Anbizen shifters. But as the president of our den, it would be my job to remind Scab of the proper way to interact with fellow shifters. And I’d give his reminder with teeth and claws instead of words.
The roar of four engines coming to life interrupted the relative silence of the meeting hall. The sound called to me, made me crave the throaty rumble of the Victory Boardwalk I’d driven out from Detroit. If I couldn’t have a willing woman under me, at least I could have the power of my favorite small cruising bike between my thighs.
“That’s my cue.” I reached across the table and clasped Jameson's forearm. “Ride hard, my brother.”
“Keep it shiny side up. And good luck above the cheese curtain, my friend.”
I straightened my cut and grinned. “I'm a two-hundred-plus-year-old wolf shifter, a member of the Feral Breed, and the president of my fucking den. I don't need luck.”
I fought back a growl as another customer pinched my ass. I turned to remind the pincher of the rules, but the face smiling at me was one of my favorites. Old Ben Miller had been a regular for years, rolling into the club on his Rascal nearly every night. He spent his retirement money on watered-down drinks and attention from any girl willing to look past his frail body to the twenties he offered.
“Cherry, baby. When’re you gonna get up on the stage and shake that thing for me?”
I forced my lips into a smile. The man asked me that question at least once every shift, and I always gave him the same answer.
“Now, Ben. You know Mr. Morris only likes the skinny girls dancing the pole.” I leaned over as if to whisper to him, giving him a good view of my cleavage. “He thinks these curves will get y'all too excited.”
As expected, Old Ben tucked a bill into the cup of my bra and gave me a wink.
“I can still get it up, you know. Don't even need none of that Viagra.”
I patted his knee. “Good for you, Ben.”
The overhead speaker crackled before the DJ’s voice thundered through the room.
“And now, on the main stage, get ready to make it rain with Dynasty!”
Ben's eyes locked on the pole where Dynasty would be dancing in about ten seconds. “Oh, now she's got a real nice set of titties on her.”
“She sure does. Have fun, Ben.”
I visually checked on my tables as I walked away. Working at a strip club had never exactly been on my list of career choices, but when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.
Or you tuck those bad boys in your bra and learn to shake it like the girls working in this dump did.
“Anything you boys need?” I smiled at the two young men at table three and cocked my hip as I'd been trained to do. Anything to draw attention to “the assets,” as my boss loved to say. Skinny, flexible, willing-to-get-naked girls made bank on the stages, though not out on the floor. Those of us with a little more meat on our bones, a few more soft curves to grab hold of, went home with the most tips out of the waitresses.
“I'll have a gin and tonic. Matt? Yo, Matt.”
The second guy at the table finally looked up. Eyes glassy and unfocused, he made my jaw clench. I had a drunk on my hands.
“How about I get Matt here a nice glass of ice water or a cup of coffee?” I turned to leave the table but stopped when someone grabbed me by the hip from behind.
“Where ya going, beautiful? I got a lap you can sit on right here.” Drunk Matt laughed and turned to his friend. “I've got a lot more she could sit on down here as well.”
I pushed his hand off my hip and turned, scanning for security as subtly as possible. Drunk guys in this place were trouble; drunk younger guys were dangerous. Matt fell into the dangerous category if his baby face was any indication of his age.
“Now boys, I do believe I told you the rules when you walked in. No touching unless I touch first. And absolutely no lap dances. I'd be more than happy to find you one of the dancers if that's what you're looking for.”
“Fuck the dancers. I want your big ass bouncing on my cock.” Drunk Matt thrust his hips off the seat of his chair as he jerked his arms up and down. So very charming.
“Sorry, Matt. But my big ass and I are not for sale. Now let me get you your drinks.”
Drunk Matt laughed but released me nonetheless. My hands shook as I took those first steps away. Face burning and fighting the urge to scream, I strode to the bar. I was so damned tired of this place.
“G and T and a Folgers, please.”
Caleb nodded once and glanced up. I took a reflexive step back as his eyes met mine. Those eyes were the creepiest shade of green—unnaturally pale, the color nearly washed out. The unusual color and huge red scar running across his cheekbone made the hair on the back of my neck stand up every time he looked at me.
He smirked, his top lip curling over his canine teeth in a way that spoke of aggression, of predator versus prey. And by the look on his face, he knew exactly how uncomfortable he made me.
“Hey, girl.” Chanel approached the bar with a smile and a swagger, interrupting my bizarre interaction with Caleb. She was a pretty girl with a huge rack. Perfect for waitressing at Amnesia Gentlemen’s Club.
“Hi, Chanel. How're the boys?”
“Two rum and diets, a sex on the beach, and a bucket of lights.” Once she finished giving Caleb her order, she turned and grinned. “Oh lord, David is driving me to drinking. I swear that boy is seven going on seventeen. But little Michael is my perfect baby still. He got two new teeth this past week and barely even made a peep about it.”
I smiled. Chanel was a great mom—kind, loving, and concerned. She often reminded me of my own mother, whom I missed every day.
“Two teeth?” I tutted and shook my head. “That's crazy. You tell that baby to stop growing.”
“I wish.” She sighed and brushed a piece of hair off her face. “How's Julian doing? You get him into that special school yet?”
My smile froze, turning plastic in an instant. “Um, no. Not yet, but I’m working on it. Oh, there’s my order. See ya later.”
I grabbed the tray of drinks Caleb set on the counter and hurried away. It was never easy talking about Julian's health. All my coworkers knew about the accident that had taken our parents’ lives and left Julian without his sight, but none of them fully understood what he went through every day. None of them had ever been around a kid who’d lost the use of one of his senses. It was agonizing and cruel, and the school teaching him a new way to navigate the world cost a fortune. Hence my working at a strip club.
The degree I’d earned in Computer Information Systems didn't do me a lot of good once I realized how crappy the places hiring paid. I quickly figured out the better choice financially was working here for cash. When the crowds were decent, I'd make more in tips in a weekend than I made in a week sitting behind a computer in a cube.
Lessons learned and all that.
The rest of the night was pretty much the same—deliver drinks, flirt, wipe down tables, smile, do my best not to smack the handsy jerks who didn't follow the rules, flirt some more. By the end of my shift, my feet hurt, my back ached, and I reeked of beer due to a clumsy drunk and a full drink tray.
There was nothing I wanted more than a shower, a pair of flannel pajama pants, and my bed.
I walked off the floor at the end of my shift with a stride that had me eating up the distance between me and freedom. I had almost reached the changing room when I heard my least favorite sound in the world.
“Cherry, I need a girl for a party.” My boss sat in his office behind his massive desk, which was covered in dirty magazines and even dirtier ashtrays. Those smoking bans didn’t apply to him, apparently. I tried to avoid him most days because, like Caleb, there was something too aggressive about him. He gave me the major creeps.
Taking a deep breath and hoping like hell for a miracle, I leaned into the open doorway. “I'm sorry, Mr. Morris, but my shift just ended.”
“I don't remember phrasing those words as a question, Cherry.” He glared at me, turning my blood to ice. I didn't understand why I always struggled with a fight-or-flight response to him, but I did. And I usually preferred the flight option. But apparently that would not be an option tonight.
“Yes, sir,” I said, my voice a little quieter than normal. “I'll just go call my brother to let him know I'll be late.”
“Good girl. And Cherry? Clean up a little, will you? I need my girls pristine for this group. They'll be here in ten minutes, so don't take long.”
I clenched my jaw as my hand curled into a fist behind me. “Of course, Mr. Morris.”
As I walked away, he yelled, “And wear the blue panty set. It makes your ass look fantastic.”
I sighed as I shoved open the changing room door. If I was lucky, I'd have time to shower, grab a bottle of water, and scarf down a sandwich from the kitchen before having to hit the floor again. Luckily, Julian was at a friend’s house for the night, so at least I didn’t need to worry about him while I worked the party. And perhaps I’d even make enough tonight to buy something special for him.
Eight minutes and a costume change later, I was in the largest of the three private rooms at the back of the club. The rooms offered comfortable seating for our guests, a private stage, one personal waitress, and the renter's choice of two girls to entertain them. I hated working the private parties. Unlike the rest of the club, there were no cameras, and the only rule the girls had to follow was to make sure the customer left happy. From what I'd seen in the past, that included lap dances, hand jobs, and blow jobs on a regular night. On a more exotic night, when the party host paid for a “special event,” things could get a little too kinky for my taste. Blood play, breath play; I’d even witnessed a foursome involving one dancer and three groomsmen.
Nothing really shocked me anymore.
Rules regarding waitresses stayed in place, though. No touching unless we touched first, no nakedness, and no lap dances. Another reason why I stayed a waitress. The tips as a dancer were nice, but there was no way I could go home to my fifteen-year-old brother and look him in the eye after doing any of that.
Julian knew where I worked. There were no secrets between us, not since our parents died four years ago and left him for me to take care of. He knew all about my job choices and why I decided to be a waitress at Amnesia. But at least I could hold my head up when I got home, could look him in the eye and tell him about my day without having to worry he’d ever find out something that would make him feel ashamed of me.
It was the one consolation in my shitty little life.
“Showtime.” Star tiptoed in through the back door of the room and stepped on stage. Porsche opened the door off the main hallway and led in a group of men. I put on my best smile, ready to flirt.
A tall blond man in a dark gray T-shirt and leather vest was the last to walk in the door. Gorgeous, utterly delicious, and totally sin incarnate. Those descriptions flew through my head as I took in the muscles, the wavy hair, and the tight-as-fuck jeans. But when he turned my way and met my stare, my knees nearly buckled. One look into those sky-colored eyes and my body responded. Within a single heartbeat, I was dripping wet and ready to throw him on the floor so I could have my way with him.
“So basically we throw a party and get lap dances.”
I scowled at Scab. He'd been far too excited about this plan ever since we discovered the clawed woman was an employee at a strip club between Milwaukee and the Illinois border.
“This isn’t a party. We’ve booked a private room so we can determine how this woman ended up with claw marks.”
Scab shrugged. “Sounds like a party. God, I hope they've got a blonde with a big ass. I haven’t had a good lap dance in weeks.”
“Have a little respect, you cretin,” Gates growled. “If there is a nomad in the area, these women are in danger. And if the authorities catch wind of this guy before we catch him, we as a species are in danger.”
“You know, Gates, if you’d get a little pussy now and again, you'd be in a much better mood.” Scab walked right up into the face of the snarling Sergeant, a definite challenge. “You've got this whole GQ model thing going for you. The ladies totally fall all over themselves trying to throw their pussies in your face. Get out there and take advantage of it. Even a pretty wolf like you needs to get his dick wet now and again.”
The tension in the air grew thick, the rest of my team responding with various low growls and muscle twitches as they fought the urge to shift. My wolf didn’t react, though. He’d established his dominance over Gates long ago. These men were no challenge to our authority, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t enjoying the power play.
Gates loomed over Scab, lip curled and hands clenched into fists. Scab held his ground, holding eye contact with an effort that showed in the way his hands shook and the sweat began to bead on his brow. But eventually the smaller man’s wolf forced him to acknowledge his lesser status by turning his head and baring his neck to Gates.
The larger shifter merely huffed and leaned against the van parked behind him. “I’m not interested in getting my dick wet, but thanks for the advice.”
“Suit yourself.” Scab shrugged and stepped away, his voice rough and his movements jerky. If I had to guess, he and his wolf didn’t agree on the confrontation. I’d need to watch him closely around Gates to make sure he didn’t try to go all sneaky-fucker. That kind of bullshit could tear a den apart. We needed to have faith that our brothers respected us, no matter what.
“So, what's the plan?” Shadow asked. Every head whipped in his direction, surprised by his question. The kid rarely spoke.
I glanced at Gates who was watching the young shifter with a smirk on his face. Gates had a soft spot for the wolf we’d only just voted to patch. He’d been our prospect for two years before he’d earned his road name and his colors during a raid on a gang of wolves selling a homemade version on The Draught. Because the chemical formula of the only drug known to calm our inner beasts was my creation, and something we made a great deal of money selling, we took piracy of the formula seriously. Shadow had fought as hard as the rest of us to shut the illegal operation down. And he’d shown true stealth, sneaking past multiple guard stations along the way. He was our ninja, our shadow warrior.
And suddenly he was speaking without being asked a direct question.
With one last glance around my motley crew, I crossed my arms and lifted my chin. “We go in, pretend to be having a celebration, and scope out the scene. If there are wolves, we talk to them. If there are man-eaters, we end them. Over and done.”
We arrived at the club as expected. The six of us strolled through the front door, joking and roughhousing like a normal group of human men about to celebrate. But our senses were on high alert—listening, watching, and smelling. If there was something wrong here, we'd figure it out.
A wolf we recognized as belonging to the Milwaukee pack met us as we entered. “Well, if it isn't the Feral Breed. What an honor to have you here tonight. I am Mr. Morris, the manager of Amnesia Gentlemen’s Club. How can we be of service?”
Gates stepped forward. “Our brother Scab here is celebrating a birthday. We thought we'd throw him a little party since we’re passing through town. We heard you've got some interesting talent.”
Morris grinned, the expression oddly snakelike for a wolf shifter. “Oh yes, the talent here is exceptional.”
“Perfect.” Gates clasped Morris on the arm and directed him farther into the club. “We reserved a room under the name of Woodward.”
We followed Morris and Gates through the club, still observing the situation. I caught the scents of six different wolves, but that wasn’t immediately concerning. The club carried the welcoming mark of the shifter community. The symbol, a circle with an S inside, was painted on both the large sign visible from the highway and the front door. Wolves in a shifter bar would be par for the course.
But when I walked into the private room we reserved, every hair on my body stood on end. My nerves fired in pulses, sending anticipatory tingles all over my body. It was as if lightning was about to strike right in front of me, and I had nowhere to run. Mouth dry and hands clammy, I glanced around the room while my wolf howled in my head.
And then I was gone.
Blond, beautiful, with bright green eyes that had locked on mine.
My wolf whined and huffed as my mind spun. I’d never even contemplated the possibility of meeting my mate, figuring I’d die early as most unmated shifters did. Yet there she was, all soft and light and absolutely fucking perfect. I wanted to grab her. I wanted to kiss her, bite her, lick her skin. I wanted to bury my face in her breasts and hold on to her hips as I rutted against her. I wanted to fuck her through the floor then soothe her delicate pussy with my tongue.
I wanted not to be caught in a room full of half-naked women with my cock about to burst through the fly of my jeans.
“Gentlemen, please meet the ladies who will be at your service tonight. This is Star and the lovely Porsche. And this beautiful lady will be your private waitress. Say hello, Cherry.”
I could hardly control the need to flash my canines as Morris wrapped his fingers around Cherry’s arm and led her to the center of the room.
My mate. Our mate.
I whipped my head around and growled when a hand landed on my shoulder.
“Take it easy, man,” Gates whispered. The ladies and other wolves hadn't noticed our interaction, but I thought I saw Cherry glancing at me out of the corner of her eye. Had I scared her? I only wanted to keep Morris’ greasy hands off her.
Keep every other man’s hands off my mate.
Jesus…I had a mate.
Gates and the other guys made themselves comfortable at the tables while I hung out in the back on a couch that reeked of sweat and sex. What the hell happened back here?
I ran a hand down my face and tried to calm my aching cock. I knew exactly what happened back here. And God help me if one of my men tried to make that happen with my Cherry.
My eyes tracked her all night. The way she smiled and flirted, the way she swung her hips when she walked, how her ass jiggled in those barely-there little short things that looked as if they were meant to be worn under her clothes. She was sin and sex and all kinds of wrong wrapped up in one gorgeous package.
But I couldn’t make a move to introduce myself. She was my lust personified but nothing I could have at that moment. She was a mere human, and we had a possible man-eating wolf on our hands who was a danger to humans. Case first, mate second.
And then what?
As Star bent over and shook her bare ass in Scab's face, I realized being mated meant leaving the Breed. No mated wolf rode. It just wasn't done.
I would have to give up my job and my brothers to have my mate. I’d be trading something I’d loved and honored for decades for someone I hadn’t even met yet. My wolf was positive this was the one for us, but the man wasn’t happy about giving up everything he cherished for a woman.
And didn't that just chap my ass.
“What do you need, darling?”
The answer burst from my lips, automatic and unintended. I hadn't even noticed Cherry approaching, too caught up in my thoughts. But there she was, looking right at me, and good lord, I could smell her. A little scared, a little anxious, and a whole hell of a lot aroused. My wolf liked that last smell best, licking his jowls and preening as his mate smiled at us.
“I'm not on the menu tonight, handsome. How about a beer?”
I bit my lip as my cock again came to full mast. Her proximity made me crazy; her honeyed scent drove my wolf mad. The wolf’s needs were simple—sleep, food, fuck. The man…well, my needs were partially in line with my wolf’s plus a few more. Like my brothers, my bikes, and my commitment to the Breed.
Like my need to beat the shit out of Scab if he didn't stop looking at my Cherry's ass.
“I'll take a light beer, thanks.” I kept my eyes on hers as I released a subtle growl. The sound shouldn’t have been loud enough for a human to hear, but a wolf, especially one of my own, would respond to the threat.
Much to my surprise, Scab completely ignored me while Cherry's eyes grew wide.
“What is that?” she asked, her voice low. The scent of her desire increased, and her face flushed an enticing shade of pink. The woman enveloped me in her desire, making me rock hard and ready to roll over for a little of her attention. Preferably focused on my cock.
I licked my lips. “You heard that?”
She nodded, her eyes still staring into mine. I couldn't decide if I should be thrilled my mate could hear my wolf sounds or terrified. There would be no way to hide my shifter side. I’d have to tell her almost immediately, giving me no time to court her first. Did people even court anymore? It’s not like I’d dated in the last hundred years or so. Unmated shifters didn’t date—we fucked. There was no point in doing the whole relationship bullshit when finding a mate could end things with a single glance. I had no idea how to entice a woman to want to spend time with me that didn’t involve getting her off.
My mind was entirely focused on Cherry and the battle raging within myself, so I didn't notice the way my brothers grew quiet or the stillness in the room.
Until I smelled the blood.
One whiff and the reality of why we were at the club slammed me into work mode. Glancing around the room, I noticed Numbers whispering to Shadow and Pup. The younger wolves stood close together, their eyes bouncing from door to door as they looked for possible threats. Scab had both strippers completely naked and writhing all over him but his eyes kept cutting to Gates. My Sergeant-at-Arms sat board-straight on a couch to my left, taking in the entire scene with his trademark expressionless face. They all smelled the blood.
We needed to get out of this room and find the source, but first I needed to make sure my mate was safe.
“Hey, Cherry?” I kept my voice soft but with a slight growl to it. She seemed to like the sound, and I really needed her to accept what I was about to ask her to do.
Cherry made a humming sound in the back of her throat, throaty and almost purr-like in tone. If I hadn't suddenly been afraid of her being in the same building with a possible man-eater, I probably would have thrown her down on the floor and rutted against her for making that sound.
But all thoughts of the possibility of getting Cherry underneath me fled when a roar thundered through the building.
The youngest member of my den, an unpatched prospect who’d been a hanger-on for the past year, appeared at my side.
“Get the women out of here and put them somewhere out of the way. I want them safe.” I grabbed his arm as he turned away, spinning him back toward me. With a snarl and a flash of teeth, I placed Cherry's hand in his. “Especially her.”
“In you go, ladies.” The young man directed the three of us into the changing room. Star trembled and tried to cover her naked body while Porsche strode in with a scowl.
“How long are we going to be stuck in here?” I slunk back as his gaze landed on me. The look the man gave me, the intensity behind his eyes, sent chills up my spine. He made me feel on display, as if he was inspecting me for something. The coldness of that look belied his youthful face and shaggy hair. This was no young surfer-wannabe.
“You’ll be in here as long as it takes. I’ll be right outside the door.” He looked me over, his eyes pausing on my breasts. “You might want to put some clothes on.”
Without another word, he spun and left the room.
“Well, ain't this a crock of shit?” Porsche banged her locker open. “I could have been making bank out on the floor but no, those bikers had to get all ‘Oooh, something's going on. Let's get you weak little women to safety.’ And what's with the whole ‘especially Cherry’ thing? You know these guys?”
I swallowed, my heart racing and my throat tight. “I've never met them before.”
“The one with the blond hair sure seemed as if he knew you.” Star walked past me on her way to her locker, still a little pale and shaky. “He couldn't keep his eyes off you all night. I thought he was going to bite my head off when I offered him a beej in the corner.”
Heat burned through my chest as I pulled my shoulders back. “You did what?”
She shrugged. “I offered him a blow job. I figured it'd be a quick fifty bucks. The man was pitching major tent when I approached, but apparently I wasn't what he had in mind.” She looked over her shoulder and raised her eyebrows at me. “He turned me down and just kept watching you work the room.”
“I have no idea why he turned you down.” I licked my lips to hide the smile trying to sneak across my face. So he watched me probably as much as I watched him.
Porsche huffed as she slid her jeans up her thighs. “Those guys creeped me out.”
I nodded because they did.
Most of them, at least.
Gates, Numbers, and I left the private room in search of the club manager. I sent Scab and Shadow to the main room in case everything went sideways. Hopefully they’d be able to get the humans out of the building before anyone went full-on wolf.
The man turned, his annoyed expression morphing into that reptilian smile in a heartbeat. But I hadn't missed it. Greasy motherfucker was up to something.
“How can I help you, sir?”
“Name's Rebel, and I get the feeling my brothers and I are missing out on one hell of a party.” I tapped the side of my nose to let him know I smelled the blood.
“I have no idea what you mean.” Morris stood a little straighter but looked away.
I grinned and turned to Gates. “You hear this? As if we can't smell it.” I leaned over Morris, my grin turning wicked as he backed into the wall. “Blood and sex go well together, don't you think?”
“Ah, yes. Well…” Morris frantically glanced up and down the hall as if looking for anyone who could overhear before leaning toward me. “We do
offer exclusive parties to some of our more discerning guests.”
“By discerning you mean angry, hungry, and horny, right? Because I'm pretty sure that describes my entire party.”
Gates and Numbers stepped up beside me, each one looming over the sputtering shifter.
Morris paled. “Sir, these parties are planned months in advance. The girls are hand-selected to be of the utmost perfection for what the host prefers. This isn't something I can put together on short notice. Now, if you'd like to—”
I growled, long and deep. His teeth snapped with the force of him shutting his trap.
“What I'd like is to get in on the action happening”—I sniffed the air—“downstairs, perhaps?”
“It's not possible.” Morris practically whispered, his face pale and his skin clammy.
The footfalls of another man reached my ears before he reached the corner. I was ready with a glare and a growl when he walked up on us.
“What's the problem?” Tall, massive, with ice-green eyes and a wicked scar to rival my denmate Beast's deformed mug, this shifter gave off the air of someone pissed and ready to fight. That was okay with me. After the whole “mate, can't mate, others staring at mate” shit, I could use a little relaxation-by-fist.