Untamed Delights (The Phoenix Pack #8) by Suzanne Wright
This is Dominic and Mila’s story
Return to the sensual and feral stirrings of the Phoenix Pack as a woman who’s already bound to one man is tempted by a wolf who’s bound only to his nightly desires.
Cat shifter Mila Devereaux can’t help but see it as a betrayal. That her one true mate imprinted himself on another female was hard enough to accept. Struggling to be at peace with her loveless fate, she doesn’t fight the suggestion of entering an arranged mating. Then she meets Dominic, a pack enforcer with a notorious reputation. It’s in his very scent. This irresistible playboy—and delicious badass wolf—is making Mila’s fantasies come alive again.
Alarming, compelling, and heady with sensual energy, Dominic is an expert at making women shed their inhibitions. Now everything about him—his killer smile, his perfectly sculpted body, and his smooth-as-honey voice—is drawing in a captivating new catch. But for the first time in his life, Dominic is feeling more than a fling. He finds himself tantalized by a female who makes him think of forever. He wants all of Mila and won’t be satisfied until he has it.
As the passion grows wild, so does the risk. They’re falling in love in the shadows and secrets of their pasts. And it’s threatening to destroy everything Mila and Dominic are fighting for. And are destined for.
Excerpt Untamed Delights by Suzanne Wright
Here’s a sneak peek of the first chapter …
She could just see the headline now . . . WOMAN ARRESTED AFTER STABBING BROTHER TO DEATH WITH PITCHFORK.
Cursing under her breath, Mila Devereaux tossed her lip gloss on the dresser and sank into her seat. In the well-lit mirror of the chic greenroom backstage, she could see that her eyes were hard, her mouth had flattened, and her cheeks were flushed. It wasn’t the first time that Alex had put that sour look on her face.
Grip tightening on her cell phone, she asked, “How can nobody know where he is, Mom?”
Fond of roaming, Alex often dropped off the radar for months while he went traveling, so it was no big deal that he wasn’t answering his phone or checking his messages. But there was usually somebody who had, at the very least, a vague idea of where he could be. Not this time, which was bad because Mila had a couple of questions for him. Like why would a bunch of brutes wait for her outside her apartment building, convinced that Alex was her roommate, and demand to see him?
“I do not know,” replied Valentina in her thick Russian accent. “But I do not think he is on run. He would not have left if he thought humans would bring trouble to your door.”
Mila had to agree with that. Alex was as protective of her as she was of him, despite their trying to kill each other more than once as kids. And no, she wasn’t kidding.
“What exactly did those men say to you?”
“Not much. Just that Alex had pissed off someone who he never should have fucked with.” Mila rubbed at her forehead. “Why couldn’t you have given me a nice brother? One who doesn’t piss off thugs, gamble like it’s his job, or blab his sister’s secrets?” If you couldn’t trust your twin with a secret, who could you trust?
“Alex did not want to tell me about your plans to move to Russia,” said Valentina. “He fought the truth serum hard. You would have been proud.”
Mila pinched the bridge of her nose. “You know, Mom, I’m sure there’s a law somewhere against giving your children truth serum.”
“Bah,” Valentina scoffed. “My mother gave it to me and your uncles all the time when we were younger—it did us no harm. It is useful when dealing with wolverines. They lie with skill.”
The latter was true. Although Mila and Alex were twins, they weren’t the same breed of shifter. She was a pallas cat like their father; he was a wolverine like their mother. Pallas cats were vicious, unpredictable, and carried bags of attitude. But compared to wolverines, they were positively saintly.
Wolverines were adept thieves, natural-born liars, considered gambling a hobby, and would brawl with their own mother just because. Fearless and cunning, they were also well known for their berserk rages and win-or-die mentality. That meant they’d attack anything, never back down, and wouldn’t stop fighting until someone was dead. Hence the all-important rule for dealing with wolverines: don’t deal with wolverines.
“You should have told me about these plans yourself, Mila,” Valentina admonished. “I knew you and Alex were keeping something from me, but I had not imagined this. It hurts my heart to know you are in such pain that you would leave your home.”
Mila swallowed. “I dealt with my pain, but my cat can’t deal with hers.”
“Well, of course you dealt with it. You are not only a Devereaux, you have Ivanov blood—that makes you strong. Tough. But pallas cats do not forgive easily—your feline needs more time. Come to me tonight. I will cook. We will talk.”
“Can’t. I’m working at the club tonight.” Turning away from the mirror, Mila allowed her eyes to drift across the framed and hung portraits and posters of various artists and bands who’d performed at the shifter club in which she sat. Underground, the Velvet Lounge looked more like a large train tunnel with its red brick walls. It belonged to the Mercury Pack, with which Mila’s Alpha had formed an alliance after fighting alongside them to defend a mutual friend. Madisyn Drake had been a lone pallas cat shifter until she mated a rather ruthless Mercury Pack enforcer.
Mila had been visiting her maternal family in Russia at the time, so she hadn’t been part of the battle. Which was a shame, really, because she did love a good fight.
Mila didn’t need to work at the club, considering she had a job at a barbershop. But she loved to perform, always had.
“Then come see me tomorrow,” Valentina urged. “I understand why you have not told Joel the truth, but he has right to know and decide for himself if—”
“No,” Mila clipped. “He’s happy. I won’t do anything to change that.” Joel was a great guy. Smart. Strong. Reliable.
He was also Mila’s true mate.
She’d known it the second she’d inhaled his scent when her cousin Adele first brought him to meet their pride a year ago. Every shifter dreamed of that moment when they found their true mate. Mila had envisioned several different scenarios, but never one in which he was partially imprinted on another female.
Every vision she’d ever had of her future with her true mate died right there on the spot. Just evaporated like smoke. Seeing him so devoted to Adele, something in Mila simply . . . went. And, God, she’d hated him.
He hadn’t sensed that they were mates—most likely because he’d been partially imprinted on Adele at the time. Thankfully, Adele had joined his Canadian pride, which meant that Mila hadn’t been forced to watch the couple grow closer and closer until, finally, their bond formed fully.
It had also given Mila the space to come to terms with the fact that she’d never have her true mate. It had been a lot like grieving. He wasn’t dead, but Mila had had to mourn what she’d never have. So there had been shock. Anger. Numbness. Depression. And, eventually, acceptance. The hate had fizzled away, because she couldn’t truly begrudge him happiness.
Her cat, however, still struggled to find peace. The way the feline saw it, their mate had chosen another female over them. It was the ultimate betrayal. He hadn’t sensed they were mates, true, but her cat—too elemental in her way of thinking—didn’t believe that excused any of his actions. And when he and Adele transferred to Mila’s pride a month ago, her cat lost her mind. The feline didn’t want this male who had betrayed her, but neither did she want to see him with another.
What made it harder was that Joel sought Mila out. Liked to talk to her. Liked to hear her thoughts on things.
Of course, he didn’t know why he was subconsciously driven to seek Mila out, and she had no intention of telling him and fucking with his head. Still, even though she’d made her peace with the situation, it wasn’t easy to see him committed to another female. And she knew she’d find it hard to watch him and Adele start a family—something the couple were eager to do.
“Choosing you over Adele would save him pain in long run,” said Valentina. “She is weak. You know how I despise weakness.”
Mila sighed. “Adele is sweet and kind.”
“Well, Joel loves her.” There would be no point in Mila trying to win him anyway. For one thing, her cat would never accept him. For another, Mila couldn’t take him as her mate. Not after seeing how crazy he was about Adele. Not after knowing he’d already formed a bond with someone else. If he were to leave Adele for her, Mila would feel second best, and the true-mate bond wouldn’t feel as special as it should.
While in Russia, Mila’s cat had been calmer. More relaxed. Probably because there was nothing there that reminded her of Joel. So when Mila’s uncle had suggested that she pack up her shit and move to Russia, it hadn’t sounded like a bad idea. The more she’d thought about it, the more attractive it had become, despite her uncle hoping she’d agree to an arranged mating with the wolverine he’d introduced her to—something Mila hadn’t yet shared with anyone but Alex.
Maksim was actually a nice guy, and she was open to getting to know him better and seeing what came of it. In Russia, she’d be far away from Joel and Adele, which could help Mila’s cat find the peace that had so far eluded her.
“I still think you should tell him truth,” stated Valentina. “It is not fair that you carry this secret. It weighs heavily on you.”
Mila hadn’t told anyone except Alex and her parents about Joel being her true mate. It was times like this that she wished she’d kept it to herself. “Mom, please let it go.”
“I just don’t want you to hurt and—” Valentina broke off at the sound of a loud bang followed by a riotous laugh. “James, quiet. I am on the phone!” she yelled at her mate, imperious.
“Is that Skeletor?” he asked, and Mila could hear the smile in his voice.
Valentina gasped in outrage. “I have told you a thousand times, James Devereaux, you cannot call my mother ‘Skeletor’!”
“She looks like a starved rat,” he said. “And I’ve heard her called worse. That man-slave she calls a mate actually refers to her as ‘that bloodsucking Rasputinette.’”
Valentina spat a stream of Russian curses at her mate, who just laughed.
Mila’s lips twitched. Considering both sides of Mila’s family “dabbled” in organized crime, you’d think that her extended maternal and paternal relatives would get along pretty well. Not at all. Oh, they did business with each other. But her mother’s family had never quite forgiven Valentina’s mate for having the downright gall to be American. The situation was made worse when James refused to move to Russia. And when the Ivanov wolverines had visited his home for the very first time only to find he didn’t stock vodka in his cupboards, they’d declared him a psychopath.
There was a light knock on the door of the greenroom. “Mom,” said Mila. “I have to go.”
“But we must talk—”
“Not now, okay. We’ll talk tomorrow, I promise. Tell Dad I said hi.” Mila hung up the phone, and then called out, “Come in!”
Harley, the club’s manager, breezed inside the room. “Hey, I came to see if you were ready.”
Looking at Mila closely, Harley tilted her head. “You okay? You look . . . off balance.”
“It’s just nerves. I love performing, but I’m always nervous until the moment I walk on the stage.”
“Hmm. Well, get your ass in gear, because you’re up next.”
For the first time that day, Mila’s smile was genuine. “I’m ready.”
Reading the sheet of paper, Madisyn chuckled. “Well, Dominic, I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am.” Placing it on the bar, she slid it toward him. “Did it work?”
“The fuckers are gone now, so, yeah,” Dominic replied.
A group of overzealous religious wackos had gathered near the club, preaching the evils of shifters, calling them demons, and damning them all to hell. Dominic had gone to Harley’s office, printed off a bunch of “Make a Deal with the Devil” contracts, and stood outside the club offering a dollar to anyone who’d sign one. The religious group had eventually stomped away, utterly furious.
Dante, his Beta, crumpled up the contract as he spoke to Madisyn. “You should have seen how many women joined the line to sign this shit.” He threw an amused glance at Dominic. “You didn’t have to kiss all of them.”
Taking a swig from his beer bottle, Dominic shrugged. “It would have been rude not to.” He took a moment to glance around. He liked the Velvet Lounge. Unlike most clubs, it was classy and had a bluesy feel. Even when the place was packed, it wasn’t too hectic, and the air didn’t feel too hot and stuffy—
“Okay, what did you do this time?”
Dominic turned . . . only to find his Alpha standing there with his arms folded across his chest and his mouth set into a white slash. Not fond of clubbing, Trey didn’t go to the Velvet Lounge often. But his mate, Taryn, had accompanied some of their female pack mates to the club, so Trey had insisted on coming along to “keep an eye on things.” He hadn’t exactly looked happy before he headed to the restroom. Now he looked even more vexed.
“Emmet Pierson,” Trey tossed out.
Dominic pursed his lips. “Is that name supposed to mean something to me?” Because it didn’t. He shot a questioning look at Dante, who shook his head to indicate that he didn’t recognize the name either.
“I checked my cell phone when I was in the restroom,” said Trey. “Pierson called me and left a message, requesting a meeting with me. He asked for you to be there. Said the matter was important, and that it concerned you. So who is he, and what did you do?”
“I haven’t got a clue who he is, and I don’t know why he’d want to speak to me.” Leaning against the bar, Dominic took another swig of his beer. “As for the ‘What did you do this time?’ question, you’ll need to be more specific.”
Wiping down the bar with a cloth, Madisyn snickered. “It can’t be something bad. Dominic always manages to charm his way out of trouble. It’s a twisted sort of charm, but it works for him.”
Dominic flashed the barmaid a smile. “Aw, thanks, Mads. You know, that dress is very becoming on you. If I were on you, I’d be coming too.”
She rolled her eyes. “See? Twisted.”
Dante shook his head. “Dom, you can’t keep using cheesy lines on people’s mates and expect not to get shot one day. Seriously, you flirt with death far too often.”
Dominic’s brow furrowed. “Is it my fault that none of you have a sense of humor?”
The Beta exhaled in exasperation, and then turned to Trey. “Back to Pierson, can’t you ask Rhett to do a background search on him?”
“I called him after I heard the message. Rhett didn’t have enough time to give me anything other than the basics.” Trey’s gaze sliced back to Dominic. “Emmet Pierson is a fifty-nine-year-old human attorney. He’s married to a human woman, Corrinne Pierson, and they have one child. Their daughter, Rosemary, is a twenty-eight-year-old shop assistant who’s recently divorced.”
The latter details tickled Dominic’s memory. “Oh.”
Trey’s eyes sharpened. “So you know the daughter?”
“Vaguely,” said Dominic.
“Meaning you slept with her?”
“Only once. I met her at a bar, went home with her, but I didn’t spend the night.” Dominic never spent the night at a woman’s house.
“When was this?”
Dominic blew out a breath. “About two weeks ago.”
“Any idea what he could want?”
“Not a clue.”
Madisyn braced her elbows on the bar. “Did your night with Rosemary go badly?”
Affronted, Dominic straightened. “My nights never end badly.”
She rolled her eyes again. “I’m not implying that she didn’t thoroughly enjoy herself. I mean, was she upset that you didn’t stay the night or something?”
Dominic thought about it for a moment. “I didn’t get that impression from her.”
Dante looked at Trey. “How did Emmet sound? Pissed? Upset?”
“Perfectly civil,” said Trey. “There was no undercurrent of anger. I’ll call him tomorrow morning and arrange a meeting. The sooner we find out what this is all about, the better.”
A curvy blonde appeared and set a tray of empty glasses on the bar. “Hey, guys.”
Dominic smiled at the waitress. “Charlene. Looking pretty as always.” The fox shifter had been a friend of his for years, and he’d helped her get the job there.
“I do, don’t I?” She tilted her head. “What brings you here tonight? You don’t come often.”
“I’m here on bodyguard duty.” He gestured at the bunch of females from his pack who were breaking out all kinds of moves on the dance floor. They paused as the DJ made an announcement over the speaker, and then the whole crowd was cheering.
Perfect, soulful notes danced through the air, snaring Dominic’s total attention. Damn, nothing about that voice would bring a person peace. No, it would bring thoughts of satin sheets and soft skin. That voice was pure sex. Raw, rich, and scratchy with a suppressed power.
He glanced at the stage, seeking the source of the sound. No lie, his heart jumped when he found it. With her hauntingly beautiful blue eyes, full red mouth, olive complexion, and the riot of glossy corkscrew curls that were such a deep brown they were almost black, the female made him think of a painting he’d once seen of a gypsy fortune-teller. Her dark eyeliner and heavy eyeshadow only made her look that much more mysterious, exotic, and elusive.
Soft and supple with legs up to her shoulders, she moved with a sensual, catlike grace as she glided across the stage like a wisp of air. She wasn’t his type. Too thin. Too fine boned. Almost fragile looking. But he had to admit there was something very bewitching about her. And when she sang . . . fuck, those dark, velvety, breathy vocals seemed to sink into his bones and thicken his blood.
And now he was rock hard.
“Who’s that?” he asked Charlene.
The fox’s smile faltered. “Her name is Mila Devereaux.”
“Devereaux?” He knew that name. He looked at Madisyn. “Is she part of Vinnie’s pride?” At Madisyn’s nod, he pursed his lips. Hmm. That meant Mila was likely a pallas cat. Interesting.
Most would have been put off by that. Cute, cranky, and crazy, pallas cat shifters had quite a reputation. Their inner felines looked like over-stuffed plush toys. All you wanted to do was pick them up and give them a cuddle. That would be a bad move—especially since they were highly antisocial and somewhat unstable. When they attacked, they became a demented creature straight out of the bowels of hell.
One thing that could be said for them was that they didn’t start trouble. But they would always end it, and that ending was never good for their foe. Those snuggly little suckers would bite off your hand and eat it while looking you dead in the eye.
“She has a really distinctive voice,” Dominic added. “How long has she been performing here?” He hadn’t seen her before.
“Not long,” replied Charlene. “So anyway . . .” The fox chattered on and on, and Dominic nodded in the appropriate places, but his attention was on Mila. She absolutely fucking owned that stage, and his wolf found her rather entrancing.
“You’re not listening to me, are you?” Charlene sighed.
Dominic blinked. “Sure I am. I’m just enjoying the show.”
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, right.” Her brow furrowed. “She’s not your usual type.”
True. Curvy Charlene was more his type—which was why they’d had a fling many, many years ago. “Doesn’t mean I’m not still appreciating the view.”
At that moment, the song tapered off, and the crowd once more went wild. Mila launched right into another song—this one more upbeat, which had people going crazy on the dance floor.
Charlene swiped the tray off the bar. “Got more glasses to collect. See you guys later.”
“Later,” said Dominic. He glanced at Madisyn. “Is Mila mated?”
Dante sighed heavily. “You have a group of females sitting at your table, waiting for you to get your ass back over there.”
Yeah, well, none of them really appealed to Dominic. No matter what others thought, he wouldn’t fuck anything that moved.
“Aren’t you tired of flings and one-night stands?” asked Dante. “Honestly?”
Tired? A little. Dominic had perfected the art of seduction long ago. It was like a dance, in some sense. But for a while now he’d become bored with the steps. Bored of the song. Bored of how easy it all was. But he had no wish to dive into a relationship, which meant keeping things shallow and simple.
As Dominic didn’t like “talks,” he asked airily, “Why would I be?”
The Beta’s mouth thinned. “You know, I once thought something serious might come of you and Charlene.”
Dominic’s brows drew together. “Why?”
“Because you kept her around for longer than a month.”
That hadn’t been out of some deep interest in the fox. Back then, Charlene had been much like him—in no rush to mate and happy to stick with flings. Later, that had changed for her, and she was now fully imprinted on a lion shifter who Dominic kind of liked. Dominic, however, hadn’t changed.
“By behaving like a player, you’re cheapening yourself.”
Dominic shot his Beta a glare. Okay, Dominic might come across as a player, but . . . “I’m not some asshole who treats women like they’re sex objects or something.”
“No, you’re not,” Dante conceded. “You show a girl a good time. You treat her with respect, you don’t play games, and you don’t lead her on. Which is probably why I’ve yet to hear any female talk smack about you. But you don’t give them even a little bit of you. You just give them the illusion that they know you.”
Trey nodded. “On the surface, you’re social and open, so no one expects you to have secrets. But you’re not really such a simple creature, and you have more boundaries than most.”
“If growing old alone will make you happy, keep going as you are,” said Dante. “But if it won’t, get your shit together.”
Dominic bristled. “You talk like I’m a middle-aged guy clinging to his freedom.”
“I just don’t want you to become that guy,” said Dante. “But you’re on that path.”
Dominic snorted. “You’re only on my ass because I’m the last unattached adult male in the pack. Just because the rest of you are mated doesn’t mean it’s wrong that I’m not. And just because all of you are happy in your mating doesn’t mean that being single makes me unhappy.”
“But that’s the thing, Dom. I don’t think you are happy. I don’t think you’ve been happy in a long time. And I don’t like it.”
“Happiness isn’t always linked to whether or not you’re in a relationship.” Mating bonds could be a blessing, but they could also be a trap. Dominic’s parents had been trapped in a broken relationship, and his mother had been so desperate to escape that she’d walked out, condemning her own mate in the process. So yeah, the need to find his true mate had never nagged at Dominic. Even his wolf was in no rush to find her.
Dominic wasn’t stupid. He knew there was every chance he’d be as happy with his true mate as his pack mates were with theirs. But he also knew that he’d be a difficult partner. He’d find it hard to open up and bare his soul. He’d struggle to fully commit to something that he knew there would be no going back from. . . especially when it would make him feel suffocated and trapped.
With shallow relationships, there was no need to open up. But when it came to mating bonds, you had to give it everything you were. Dominic wasn’t sure he was ready for that. And if he couldn’t be sure that he was someone a female could fully trust, rely on, and care for, he had no business asking anything more from her than what he could give in return.
Dante lifted his hands, palms out. “All right, I’ll back off. But just keep in mind what I said, okay?”
Dominic made a noncommittal sound, and Dante rolled his eyes. Just then, Mila drew out her final note and the crowd went wild again, clapping and hooting. More than happy to distract himself from thoughts of his parents, Dominic turned his attention back to her.
Nursing his beer, he watched as she thanked her audience and then stalked off the stage, ass swaying provocatively. An ass he wouldn’t mind getting a firm grip on.
Moments later, she slipped through the door that led backstage and sort of . . . flowed toward the bar, as light and fluid as music. People waved at her and shouted out compliments, but she didn’t break stride as she cast them each a smile. He got the sense that she didn’t relish the attention but didn’t find it uncomfortable either.
Reaching the bar, she slipped onto a stool. “Water, please, Mads.”
Damn if that sultry voice didn’t slide down Dominic’s spine. His pack mate, Frankie, spoke in a low-pitched, smoky rasp, but Mila’s voice was a scratchy, gravely, dirty kind of smoky that was almost hypnotic and made a man think of sin.
“You were great up there,” Madisyn told her as she handed her a bottle. “But then, you always are.”
“We should do a duet,” said Mila. “Don’t even lie and say you can’t sing for shit. I know you can.”
The barmaid shook her head madly. “That would gain me attention. Attention leads to ‘fuss.’ You know I loathe ‘fuss.’”
With a snicker, Mila unscrewed the cap from her bottle and took a swig. “Needed that.”
As if feeling Dominic’s gaze, Mila looked at him. Her direct stare was like a punch to the gut. There were shadows in those eyes. A soul-deep loneliness he could relate to. But there was also pure iron. Whatever had put those shadows in her eyes wouldn’t break her.
Another female might have, at the very least, nodded at him in greeting. Not this female. She didn’t smile. Didn’t frown. Didn’t even change expression. There was no feminine appreciation in her eyes at all. Then, voice dry as a bone, she said, “No sense in staring. You can’t afford me.” She looked away, dismissing him.
Damn, the wolf was just . . . delicious. A salivating, tantalizing signature dish dusted with hotness, laced with sheer masculinity, covered in self-assurance, and topped with a sprinkle of raw charisma. Mila couldn’t help wanting to savor every bite.
She’d never spoken to him before, but she’d seen him from afar plenty of times at the bars and nightclubs she frequented—had always referred to him as “GQ” in her head. Dangerously compelling and loaded with sexual energy, he was an expert at making girls part with their panties. Everything about him—his killer smile, his perfectly sculpted body, and his smooth-as-honey voice—made you think of sex.
Any female with a pulse would want to spear her fingers through that short blond hair that made Mila think of spun gold. Any female would imagine licking the taut, tanned skin that covered all that hard, honed muscle. His powder-blue eyes were as clear as water and held a hint of infectious mischief, but there was also an almost imperceptible glimmer of shrewdness. She’d bet the guy was nowhere near as harmless as he liked to appear.
Mila had always admired the personal power he wielded. The moment he walked into a room—moving with the swaggering, confident gait of someone who knew his own appeal and would make no bones about exploiting it—people looked at him. Watched him. It wasn’t just his model looks. It was how he moved. Fluidly. Deliberately. At perfect ease with himself. Like everything was natural and effortless.
He never had to work the room. No, he just found himself a seat, and people flocked to him like bees to honey. A master at social Tae Kwon Do, he initiated conversation with total ease and seemed to both enliven and draw energy from the crowd.
Everyone loved him. Both men and women flirted shamelessly with him, and he took it all in stride. But even as he chatted and laughed, he was always alert and vigilant; his gaze often swept his surroundings, processing every little detail.
She had no idea why said gaze had landed on her. She’d seen the type of girl he went for—curvy, blonde, sultry. Mila was none of those things. Well, something had caught his roaming eye. Oh God, she hadn’t smudged her mascara, had she? Probably. It was a little habit of hers. No doubt he’d found something much more interesting to look at by now.
She snuck a quick glance at him from the corner of her eye. Shit, he was still staring right at her. No, he was eye-fucking her. Mila’s heart slammed against her ribs. Just like that, she felt awkward. She wasn’t good at flirting. It felt too much like a game, and she hated games. Mila wasn’t a girl who flicked her hair, licked her lips, or gave off other sexy “I’m up for it” cues. She was too straightforward for all that.
Fuck, shit, fuck, what should she do? Well, she wouldn’t look at him again—that was for sure. She’d just look straight ahead. She’d ignore him. He probably wasn’t watching her anymore anyway. Right? There was no harm in just checking, though, and—
Shit, he was still looking at her. He probably thought she was going to do what other females did and fall all over him. Well, she wasn’t. Nuh-uh. She wasn’t even going to look at him again. Not even once.
Or maybe she could try eye-fucking him back? You know, for practice. And experimental purposes. Or something. No, it was best not to attempt it—she’d get it wrong for sure. She’d just come across as creepy and weird and then need to triple-blink with the pressure.
It would be better to go home and play with her vibrator. Because although Mila was just as susceptible to him as other females, she had no interest in a fling. Her ex was a lot like GQ in that he used sex as an escape and was interested only in one-sided relationships. She’d bet that, like Grant, GQ could suavely talk his way out of your life just as fast and as smoothly as he’d talked himself into it . . . somehow leaving you feeling good about yourself even as he ended what little you had together.
These people were sheer fucking magic. They were also hard to be with. The fact that they were always surrounded by others meant that you were constantly vying for their attention. Women would flock to and flirt with them right in front of you, act as if you weren’t even there. Mila had learned fast that guys like GQ weren’t for her.
That didn’t stop her heart from beating a little faster as he sidled up to her, his mouth curving into a slow, lazy smile. And now he was eye-fucking her again. She didn’t look away this time. No, she forced herself to face him, determined to play it cool. But her blood heated as his hooded, brooding eyes blatantly raked over her from head to toe.
Sexual energy hummed in the air, stirring up her hormones and whipping them into a frenzy. And his darkly delicious scent of amber, rum, and caramelized sugar only made her hungrier.
His eyes came back to hers, glittering with something dark and hot that made her pulse skitter and her cat snap to attention. The air thickened. Charged. Crackled. And little sparks of electricity whispered across Mila’s flesh, making it prickle. Fuck, the guy was beyond potent.
His eyes dropped to her mouth, which was now bone dry. As he stared at it hungrily, his tongue briefly flicked out to touch his lower lip. Her pussy quivered. Quivered. Shit, how did he do that?
This male was dangerous. Far too tempting. Far too compelling. A distinct threat to the composure of all womankind. But she’d be damned if she’d let him see what he did to her. No, she was absolutely determined to stay strong under the weight of all that sex appeal. Luckily, she’d always been good at feigning disinterest in things or people.
“Madisyn tells me you’re one of Vinnie’s cats,” said GQ, his voice so silky smooth it gave her goose bumps. “I’m Dominic. And you are . . . ?”
The name suited him, she thought. “Mila.”
He tilted his head. “Why are you looking so down, Mila? Let me guess—it hurt when you fell from heaven, right?”
“No. But hauling my ass out of hell was a bastard of a climb.”
Chuckling, he cast her bottle of water a quick look. “Let me buy you a real drink.”
“I’d prefer to just have the cash.”
Dominic’s brows lifted, eyes twinkling. “Would you now?”
“Yeah, these are hard times we live in.”
“True.” Dominic tipped his chin at the mountain of muscle behind him, although he kept his eyes on her. “See my pack mate over there? He wants to know if you think I’m hot.”
“Why? Does he have his eye on you and consider me competition?”
Dominic’s smile widened. “Yeah. He and I are both gay. Think you can convert me?”
She snorted, and then turned to Madisyn. “Is he always like this?”
With a regretful sigh, Madisyn nodded. “Yeah.”
Dominic edged closer, his eyes dropping to her enticing mouth again. Lush and bow-shaped, it was straight out of every X-rated fantasy he’d ever had. Up close, he could see that although Mila was slim, she wasn’t all skin and bones as he’d first thought. No, she had delicate curves in all the right places, and damn if he didn’t want to get a better look at them.
He itched to touch her flawless olive skin and see if it was as petal-soft as it looked. Maybe even take a bite. His wolf liked that idea, wanted to leave a mark or two on her flesh—not out of possessiveness but to get her attention. She had such an aloof “I could give few fucks” way about her that his wolf felt overlooked. Especially now as she chatted with Madisyn, like Dominic wasn’t even there. Which, perversely, made him smile.
She laughed at something the barmaid said, and Jesus, the smoky sound was like fingers curling around his cock. He’d been rock hard since she’d started singing onstage, and his dick showed no signs of standing down. A greedy ache to possess her had him in a tight grip, and it was made worse by the electric energy she gave off that fluttered across his nape. And God, her scent . . . Frosted berries, rosewood, and sweet honey. Yeah, he wanted more of that. His wolf wanted to lap it up.
The odd “note” to her scent told Dominic that her parents weren’t the same breed of shifter. When different breeds conceived a child, said child would be the breed of one of their parents. But just as they would have the physical characteristics of both parents, they would carry a hint of both breeds in their scent. He could smell the pallas cat in her, but he couldn’t quite make out what the extra “note” to that smell was. “Which one is the pallas cat—your mother or your father?”
Mila blinked at him, surprised. “My dad.”
“What’s your mom?”
His brows flew up again. “Your mother is a wolverine? Oh, Mila, you just get more and more interesting. Can you introduce me to her? I’ve never met a wolverine.”
Mila could only stare at him. The guy wanted to meet a wolverine? Most breeds of shifter pointedly avoided them. “I’m beginning to think you’re not quite sane.”
“Admittedly, you’re not the only person who feels that way. Does that mean you won’t go home with me?”
“Is there much point? I doubt it would be easy for two people to fit in a cardboard box.”
He laughed. “Mila, you’re a tough audience.” Damn, he really liked this cat. Liked her sharp wit, dry humor, and aura of electricity. Liked her quiet confidence—it was in her easy smile, her unapologetically direct stare, and the self-assured way she carried herself.
Her feline air of indifference was like a challenge, and he just wanted to find some way to crack that poker face. But she wasn’t giving him any openings. She practically batted away his pickup lines. Dismissed his flirtatiousness. Snorted at his attempts to charm her.
He knew she was attracted to him—he could see it, sense it—but she didn’t appear interested in acting on it. She wasn’t playing coy or hard to get. Wasn’t testing him or attempting to take control of the situation by leading their dance; he knew those games, could spot them easily.
He had the clear sense that she was simply very selective in her choice of sexual partners and, for whatever reason, he didn’t meet her standards. Yeah, that poked at his ego. It also made him determined to meet this challenge she presented.
Fighting the urge to tug on one of those unruly curls and then watch it spring back into place, Dominic said, “Come on, you’re not going to make me go home all alone, are you? That’s mean. Or maybe you’re just nervous. What is it, are you a virgin?”
She frowned. “No.”
Oh, this guy is pure trouble, Mila thought. Especially since he was stirring the interest of her moody cat—not just sexually, but because the cat sensed there were many facets to this male, and she couldn’t quite understand why he was hiding them. Yeah, Mila herself got the feeling that he wasn’t quite the shameless, shallow flirt he came across as to others.
When he stepped farther into Mila’s personal space, his eyes fixing on her mouth yet again, she knew it was time to go. Bottle of water in hand, Mila slid off the stool and said to Madisyn, “Good luck protecting this one from himself.”
Dominic pushed away from the bar. “You really won’t take me with you? Come on, if you don’t enjoy yourself, well, you’ve only wasted five hours of your life. Eight if you wanna include foreplay.”
Mila snorted. “Sorry, GQ, you’re not my type.”
“GQ?” he echoed. “Why am I not your type?” Dominic was pretty sure no one had ever said that to him before.
“Because I like men. You’re just a little boy.” Mila patted him on the head. “A little boy who comes across as a deceptively harmless flirt so that people label you a player, which makes them think they have you all figured out. But I’ll bet very few people really know you, and I’m sure that suits you just fine.”
A wide smile curved his mouth. “Damn, Mila, where have you been all my life?”
“Exactly where I’ll be during the rest of your days on this earth, sweetie—in your most imaginative dreams.” With that, she turned and walked away.
Trey sidled up to him, oozing amusement. “Crashed and burned.”
“Oh, I like her.” Dante chuckled. “I really, really like her.”
“I think I love her,” said Dominic.
Madisyn snickered. “Give it up, Dom. She’s not a female you’ll be able to charm into bed.”
He frowned. “Why not?”
“Because she’ll want a person with a little more substance. You have substance. You just prefer to keep it hidden.” Madisyn gestured at the rest of the club. “Turn your attention elsewhere. God knows, there are plenty of welcoming smiles being directed your way. That group of girls is still waiting at your table.”
But Dominic didn’t want any of those females. He wanted the little cat who’d done what no other female had ever done—called him on his shit.
© Suzanne Wright