Authors: Nina Croft
Sisters of the Moon Series
Bound to Moonlight
Bound to Moonlight
Copyright © 2012 by Nina Croft
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author or publisher except for the use of brief quotations in critical articles or reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, businesses, characters and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, actual events or locales is purely coincidental.
Cover design by Fantasia Frog Designs
Table of Contents
Anya’s finger tightened on the trigger.
The chill of the metal penetrated her skin, sending icy tendrils curling through her body. She waited for the cold to seep into her mind, to take her to that peaceful place. The place she always went when she had a job to do.
Tonight, peace remained elusive, and she shifted restlessly.
Dusk fell, and the last daylight faded into darkness. Anya lay on her belly, stretched out on the soft detritus of the forest floor, her sniper rifle resting on a rotting tree limb in front of her. Her nostrils filled with the scent of decay mixed with the musky smell of wild garlic crushed beneath her. Above her head, the breeze rustled the leaves in the tree canopy. Aside from that, the woods were silent. She reached out with her mind, but found no one within listening distance.
She was alone.
For a moment, she savored the feeling. She closed her eyes and pressed her forehead to the rough bark of the tree limb. And in the solitude of her mind, she finally acknowledged the truth that had been plaguing her for so long. She didn’t want to do this anymore.
The sound of a door opening snapped her from her thoughts. She raised her head, her movements slow and careful and sighted down the length of the rifle. The scents and sounds of the forest faded around her as all her senses focused on the figure that emerged from the open door.
She recognized him immediately. Sebastian Quinn. Her target.
The man they’d told her was responsible for the death of her sister. The sister she had never known. Would now never know.
The shot would be easy from here. She’d expected him to be wary; after all, she’d captured three of his people over the past week. Instead, he appeared relaxed, standing on the steps in front of the house as though he were posing for her.
She studied him through the scope. She’d seen photographs, but they hadn’t done him justice. Pale blond hair fell over his forehead, framing the face of a dissipated angel. His long, lean body was dressed in faded jeans and a dark blue shirt that perfectly matched his wicked blue eyes.
He raised his head and sniffed the air. His eyes narrowed, and he swung around, his gaze seeming to penetrate her hiding place.
He knew she was here.
Without conscious thought, she reached out to his mind and instantly froze. She probed again but slammed into an impenetrable barrier. He was shielded. Why hadn’t the Agency told her? Did they even know?
For a brief moment, she considered taking the shot but pushed the idea aside. The mission had been compromised. Besides, she would give away her location, and she’d bet he had people watching from the house.
Anya looked down the scope one last time. Across the distance, his eyes captured hers, and she blinked to break the contact.
Wriggling backwards on her stomach, she stayed low until she reached the cover of the dense trees. She came up on her knees, glanced back over her shoulder, and knew that he had sensed her movement. He stared straight at the spot she’d been hidden, a fierce grin spreading across his face.
He spoke briefly into a cell phone then started to strip off his clothes.
What the hell was he doing?
She knelt transfixed as he tore off his shirt and tossed it to the ground. His skin was golden, sleek muscle over bone, broad shoulders, and lean almost concave belly. His hand went to the belt at his waist, and Anya scrambled to her feet and ran.
She raced through the forest, weaving between the huge gnarled oak trees, her boots making no sound on the soft ground. Branches snatched at her clothes, scratching the exposed skin of her face, and still she ran.
In the distance, an owl hooted and a wolf howled. Anya lost her concentration, stumbling over an exposed root. She righted herself as a second wolf answered. Flinging herself behind a tree, she leaned against the rough bark. Panic flared, and she pushed it down, forced her breath to slow, concentrating her mind.
There were no wolves in England, not outside of a zoo anyway. They must be using hounds to track her, but they sounded far away. She had time. She just needed to make it to the wall surrounding the property, and she’d be free.
She opened her mind. There were no people close, and some of the tension drained from her. Stepping forward, she peered into the thick darkness between the trees, trying to orientate herself. She realized she still clutched the rifle in her hand. She hefted it across one shoulder and crept through the forest.
Five minutes later, she stood beside the tall wall that ran around the entire perimeter of the compound. She reached out to touch the rough stone, a sigh escaping her lungs. Now she was safe, she could admit how rattled she’d felt. The night had not gone well, and her handlers would not be pleased. But there would be another chance.
She caught a movement out of the corner of her eye and whirled around. Too late. A huge, grey object slammed into her. Dropping the rifle, she crashed to the ground and rolled, her hand going instinctively to the pistol at her waist. She came straight back on her feet, the pistol gripped in her hand, adrenaline surging through her veins. And she stopped.
Wolves surrounded her. For a moment, her mind refused to accept what she saw. Her fingers clenched around the gun, searching for a target, but they were all around. Her eyes darted everywhere, hunting for an escape. She had a full clip in her gun. She could still get out of here.
A silver wolf stepped forward from the pack and padded toward her, tail held low, muzzle peeled back in a snarl that revealed razor sharp canines.
Raising her pistol, Anya stared into its face. In that instant, she recognized the flash of humanity in the dark blue eyes. Shock ripped through her, and she hesitated. She could have shot a man with ease, but not this wild, beautiful creature. She released her breath and lowered the pistol to her side in defeat.
Something hit her from the side. She fell back, her head cracked against the stone wall, and the darkness swallowed her.
The wolves milled, restless and hungry.
Sebastian growled low in his throat, and they backed away, melting into the forest. He shifted back into human form and crouched beside the fallen sniper. The body lay face down, lifeless, and Sebastian swore under his breath. He hoped to hell the man wasn’t dead. They needed to find out who had sent him and whether their missing pack members were still alive.
He reached out and pressed his fingers against the sniper’s throat. The skin felt warm and the pulse strong—still alive. He rolled the body over and swore again.
His sniper was a woman.
Not that it made much difference, but if it came to using conventional methods to get them to talk, he’d have preferred dealing with a man. Something about torturing a woman didn’t sit well with him, but he’d do what he had to do. Someone was targeting his pack, and he needed to know who and why, and then he needed to stop them.
She was tall for a woman, dressed in dark pants and a dark shirt, her blond hair pulled into a tight ponytail at her nape. It was easy to see how he had mistaken her for a man. From a distance.
Up close, she’d be impossible to mistake for anything other than a woman. A beautiful woman with prominent cheekbones and a wide sensual mouth. His gaze dropped to her chest and the swell of small breasts beneath the shirt.
Her hand still clasped the pistol, and he wondered for a moment why she hadn’t taken the shot. He shrugged, then loosened her fingers and threw the gun to the ground next to the sniper rifle that lay beside her. The rifle wasn’t a model he recognized; he guessed it must be some sort of prototype. Could she be military?
She groaned low in her throat, and his gaze flew back to her face.
Dark brown eyes flecked with gold, stared up at him. They widened then looked around wildly. She started to push herself up, and he drew back his fist and clipped her lightly across the chin. She collapsed back to the forest floor, and Sebastian rose to his feet.
He picked her up with ease, slung her over his shoulder, and headed naked and barefoot back to the house.
Riley, his second, was already back and dressed. Opening the door, he led the way down the narrow stairs into the basement and unlocked the silver cage that stood in the center of the room.
Sebastian dropped his burden onto the small cot and stood for a moment staring down at her. Still unconscious, her dark lashes formed shadows on the pale, flawless skin of her cheeks. Her wide, lush mouth parted with each shallow breath, and watching the slight movement, an unexpected fire stirred to life low in his belly. A trickle of unease ran up his spine. This woman was nothing more than a means to an end. The only reason they had taken her alive was to make her talk.
He glanced at Riley. “Go get my clothes. I left them on the steps.”
Sebastian turned back to his prisoner. Who was she? More importantly, who was she working for?
This had to be connected to the search for Tasha’s sisters.
Tasha, a powerful telepath as well as a werewolf, was the newest member of his pack. Until six months ago, she’d been a prisoner at the Facility, an organization carrying out illegal research into the paranormal. His group had freed Tasha, and destroyed the building, but it had soon become clear that The Facility was merely an arm of a monster with tentacles wrapped around every powerful organization in the world.
Tasha and her husband, Jack, were now following a lead in Russia, while Sebastian had promised Tasha that he would keep up the hunt for her family. The sisters who’d been created at the same time as Tasha, from the same DNA.
They’d had a lead. Frank Latham had run the government laboratory where Tasha was born. He’d also turned up at The Facility where she’d been a prisoner since her attack by a werewolf assassin, eight years ago. They were getting close to finding him. Maybe too close, because now somebody had come after them. Three of Sebastian’s people had gone missing in the last week.
Riley returned and threw a bundle of clothes to him. Sebastian pulled on his jeans but tossed the shirt over the single upright chair before turning back to the woman. He needed to search her for anything that might give a clue to her identity, and that would be easier while she was unconscious. Crossing the room to the small cot, he crouched next to her. He unlaced one black combat boot and tugged it off. The second followed, and he dropped them on the floor.
He reached to unbuckle the weapons belt at her waist then glanced back over his shoulder to where Riley loitered in the open doorway. “Get out.”
Riley raised an eyebrow but turned and left.
Sebastian unfastened the snap and tugged her pants down over her slim hips. Her legs were long, slender, her skin pale.
The pants had no labels, nothing that could give any indication of where she had come from. She was obviously a professional. Leaning across, he flicked open the buttons on her shirt. She didn’t awaken, and he slipped his hands under her shoulder, heaved her up, and stripped the shirt from her. Like the pants, it had no labels; he hadn’t expected any.
She lay on her back on the grey blanket, now wearing only a black cotton bra and black panties, stark against the whiteness of her skin. His gaze ran over her. She was almost too thin, with each rib visible, and her abdomen a hollow dip, but the long lines of her muscles were clearly defined. She appeared at that peak of physical fitness only achieved by hard training.
He had to finish this. He slipped his hands beneath her and flicked open the clasp of her bra, tugged the straps down over her arms, and tossed it on to the pile of clothes.