Authors: Persephone Jones
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Erotica
Morgan Keevy is a woman hell-bent on revenge. She’s traveled thousands of miles to Scotland to kill Ciaran McCade, the man responsible for murdering her twin sister Megan. So she’s horrified by her lust-filled response to him at their first meeting.
All werewolf Conall McCade wants is a pint in the local pub. When he meets sexy Morgan at the bar, he believes he’s hit the one-night-stand lottery. Unbeknownst to Conall, Morgan thinks he’s Ciaran, his deranged twin brother—a fact he doesn’t learn until he’s tied to the bed…naked…with a silver dagger aimed for his heart.
The moon is full. Lust is in the air. And no one is who or what they seem.
paranormal erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave
To my mother, the strongest woman I’ve ever known.
To Jason, for your love, loyalty and laughter.
To Jaid, Kelli and Raelene for the opportunity to make my dream come true.
And to my father. By all accounts, you’re missing out on one hell of a daughter.
The Slain Maiden
North Harris, Scotland
Fucker was dead meat.
Fire blazed down Morgan Keevy’s throat as she knocked back her third vodka shot. She couldn’t have asked for a better seat, in the corner and far from sight of anyone who entered The Slain Maiden. There was little light and that suited her just fine. She was glad for the obscurity. The last thing she wanted was for Ciaran McCade to recognize her should he look her way. It was Friday night and going to the pub was a way of life for the people in this part of the world. Having learned of Ciaran’s penchant for drink from the police reports of his numerous arrests for public intoxication, all Morgan needed to do was wait for the thirst to win out.
The thirst and the hunger.
In recent months, she’d learned the fine art of willpower and become a patient woman, willing to bet her life he would come tonight. In more ways than one if things went according to plan. A mild quiver in the pit of her stomach, an anticipation, a near giddiness that coursed through her blood told her something was about to happen. Morgan welcomed it, used it to keep sharp and at the ready.
She wore a chestnut-brown wig. If authorities asked for a physical description, hair color might be enough to throw their entire case investigation off kilter. At least she hoped it would. She’d wanted the disguise to include color contacts but no amount of courage enabled her to overcome her nausea after putting them in, so with great reluctance she’d forgone them.
Her hands no longer shook. Fisting her hands, she squeezed the tension from her body and did her best to relax. Concentrating on her respiration, she slowed her racing heart with deep breaths and found the inner stillness she required. In her current state of extreme tension, she’d have screamed if someone so much as made eye contact with her.
The old wooden door blew open.
A creeping chill snaked up her spine and slithered over her shoulders, her nipples shrinking to diamond-hard points beneath her sweater. But the icy cold didn’t stop there. It reached deep within her, squeezed her gut and refused to let go.
It was him. Ciaran McCade. The monster made real.
From her hiding spot she had a perfect view of him. Unconsciously she dug her fingernails into the green vinyl seat beneath her as she watched him make his way to the bar and rest his sizable frame on an empty barstool. He was much bigger and taller than she imagined and more real, a revelation she dared not let frighten her. For months she’d studied men his size, gauging their strength, familiarizing herself with the density of their forms, not wanting the real one to take her unaware. But he wasn’t just any man.
Even now, on the eve of her revenge, she had to suppress the temptation to cackle like a witch when she considered all the unsuspecting males she’d inspected up close. Each of them believed she was entertaining the flirtations of a naïve, easy good time with their wit and charm, when in fact they were nothing more than attractive guinea pigs.
Morgan observed the man at the bar chat casually with the staff as if on friendly terms. Did they know they conversed with a murdering psychopath? A savage beast? If she wasn’t careful she’d grind her teeth to dust. The nerve of him to smile, chuckle, breathe,
—while Megan kept company with the dead.
Well, maybe not the dead but certainly not the living. To her amazement, Megan’s ghost had visited her on more than one occasion. They’d held conversations. She’d even channeled her sister’s spirit. Seen what she’d seen right before the life slipped out of her, to include the last face she saw, the face of her killer. Not that anyone would believe such a thing was possible. But then, her entire life had become one giant slice of impossible.
As if privy to her secret mind, the man turned his head ever so slightly and she caught the best glimpse of him yet. Her stomach lurched into her throat at the thought he might have seen her. His eyes did a quick, furtive scan of the room.
Scoping his next victim no doubt.
All the preparation in the world could not have prepared her for the unexpected, however. He was handsome, she’d give him that. She had difficulty imagining her sister falling for his nice-guy act. Megan had always liked pretty faces and Ciaran McCade wasn’t pretty. Distinct, chiseled and masculine perhaps, but not pretty. Not that such trivial detail mattered to her whatsoever. Big or small, pretty or ugly, he was a walking dead man.
Morgan remembered the first time she saw him outside of her visions. One of the detectives working Megan’s case called her in the middle of dinner and told her they’d made an arrest. Her drive to the station had nearly broken the sound barrier and more than a few traffic laws.
After waiting in the detective’s office for a few minutes, she’d stepped out into the lounge to get some coffee to settle her nerves. The sound of stern male voices made her look up and there he was, in handcuffs, being escorted down a hallway by two uniformed police officers. Even now, she could recall the fear that seized her upon seeing the man responsible for Megan’s murder. The dinky coffee cup had fallen out of her hand, the liquid’s heat stealing her attention away in an instant. When she looked up again, he’d disappeared behind a wall, almost like a mirage.
He’d looked bigger then, rougher and meaner.
Wiping her sweaty palms on her short, ink-black skirt, she made a concerted effort to stand on her feet. Unfortunately, she couldn’t kill him from where she stood. She was going to have to put one foot in front of the other and walk. A walk she and Megan had practiced a thousand times over as little girls pretending to be supermodels on the catwalk. With the scores of dress rehearsals firmly in the forefront of her mind, she threw her arms back and lifted her chin in a haughty extreme, mindful to overdo the sexual sway of her hips as she made her way to the bar.
“Sex on the Beach, please,” she said with an authentic sigh of relief. Her feet hadn’t let her down and now she was seated securely at the bar beside Megan’s killer.
Luckily the bartender was a good sport. Towel thrown over his rounded shoulder, the middle-aged man in rainbow suspenders made an easygoing smile of his ruddy face and leaned toward her. “And just how the hell do you make that, love?”
“Rum, pineapple, Grenadine and Sprite.” She used the fullness of her crimson lips to enunciate her order. But she wasn’t doing it for the barkeep, amiable as he was. She was doing it for the man—no, the
—beside her. She’d hoped the name of the drink would get his attention and it had.
Almost immediately, she had his attention. Morgan waited while the man behind the bar busied himself like a mad scientist. With feigned oblivion, she swayed and tapped her red-painted fingernails to the music booming from the lit-up jukebox. She pretended to be lost in private reverie, unaware of the spellbound male mere inches away. Then as if by total chance, she made nonchalant notice of his eyes on her.
“Hi.” She flashed a generous smile at him.
His entire body reacted to her. Head bowed, his lips moved with uncertainty between smile and speech, but no words formed on them. His frame, well over six feet, tensed and shifted. The quiet glance down at his drink and the singular tic in his jaw, an obvious attempt at recovery, were all signs he’d noticed her and liked what he saw.
Thank you, Jesus,
Morgan prayed secretly. While she was certainly no expert on what made men wild with desire, she recognized sincere male interest when she saw it. What she hadn’t expected was how thrilling it would be to have a man, an attractive one at that, ogle her like a wolf ogled a wounded lamb.
She felt guilty taxing the bartender with such a difficult drink request, but it gave her maximum time to make her first impression. The poor man didn’t know he was an accomplice in her efforts but what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. Truth was, she was doing the town a favor ridding it of such insidious vermin as Ciaran McCade.
As if in a world of her own, she threw her faux locks over her shoulder. Certain she still held his attention captive, she cast another glance in his direction and met his eyes once again in a flickering flash of feminine coyness.
“Hi,” he said with a nod.
“Hi,” she whispered shyly with a blush, realizing she was repeating herself.
Oh well, all the more convincing,
A few minutes later the agreeable barkeep returned with a modified version of her drink. After his apologetic explanation, she reassured him with a comforting pat on the hand. Even that was for the man beside her. Nothing but a taste would be enough to reassure the humble bartender. So without delay, she sipped the mixed concoction and was surprised to find it so pleasing.
“Mmm…” Eyes closed in what she hoped was convincing rapture, she purred. “Yummy.”
The bartender beamed.
Now came the real performance. She opened her purse and fabricated a search for her missing wallet, which she had hidden in her coat pocket. Like an Oscar-winning actress, she manufactured sudden alarm and irritation. “Damn it.”
Morgan could feel both men watching her. Stalling for time, she continued rummaging. She took a moment to search her immediate surroundings and sighed for effect, figuring it would only add to the damsel in distress act. Then she resumed the fruitless search of her bag. “Um, it appears I left my wallet at the inn. Is there any way that I could leave some sort of—”
A firm hand came down beside hers, a handful of money beneath it. Her eyes traveled up a sleeve’s length of chocolate leather until she was staring at none other than Ciaran McCade. It would have been a lie to say she stared back at him with fabricated wide-eyed surprise. Recovering her composure, she swallowed the lump in her throat. He wanted to pay for her drink. One of a thousand scenarios she imagined that might bring her face-to-face with the man responsible for her sister’s premature death.
“I can’t let you do that.”
“I just did,” he said, his voice revealing a genuine but subtle Scottish accent.
Without asking, the bartender took the paper notes and placed them in a nearby register. She didn’t know whether to be insulted by the arrogance of the man beside her or impressed with her own ability to stay in character. Was this anything like how he’d deceived poor Megan?
Needless to say now was no time for trepidation. Ordinarily she would have hidden behind her long, naturally red locks and waited for the courage to speak, but tonight she was someone else. This someone wore a brunette wig. This someone wore a skirt so short it should have been illegal, a sweater so tight she’d held her breath while pulling it on and patent leather high-heeled “fuck me” pumps. This someone had to emote, flirt and bait a killer.
Somewhat closer to him now, Morgan smiled demurely. She saw a striking face with symmetrical, well-sized features. His eyes were intense pure green and his lips were full but entirely masculine. A head crowned with shaggy, dark-brown locks matched a jaw covered in closely cropped chestnut shadow. He was the largest man in the pub, towering over the others by half a foot. No wonder it had been easy to tear a young woman a mere five-foot-three to bite-size bits. He’d draped his broad frame in a midnight-blue roll neck sweater with tiny flecks of white, a leather jacket and boots. Best of all, though, was his kilt. Cobalt blue with a kelly green stripe, two red pinstripes and a white one. Nearer now, she was resigned to rethink her previous conclusions. He wasn’t just good-looking. He was fucking
. The concession pained her.
And the gorgeous monster was smiling at her. She worked to suppress an eruption of hysteria despite the knot of snakes in her stomach. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Say your name.” His voice held a rasp of anticipation.
He raised his eyebrows in overdramatized astonishment. “That’s so strange.” He rolled his “r” without effort. “Morgan happens to be my favorite name.”
“Really?” She giggled, humoring him. Horrified that her laughter came so easily. “What a coincidence. And what might your name be?”
“Conall?” Morgan repeated with an arched eyebrow.
She couldn’t help but recognize how skilled he was in deception. Lies dripped from his inviting mouth like honey. His name was Ciaran McCade and he was a murderer. She’d seen it through her sister’s eyes.
“What brings you to Scotland…miss, Mrs.?” He performed a shameless search of her fingers.
“Ms.? You’re not married?” He glanced around as if he’d stumbled upon a gold mine and wished to keep it a secret. Right then, she could have taken him gently by the back of the head, brought him to her lips and whispered to him,
Have no fear. I only have eyes for you, Ciaran McCade. Eyes and a dagger with your murdering name written all over it.
She showed him her hand, naked of any jewelry.
Morgan shook her head.
“Boyfriend.” He declared as if finally certain in his last-ditch attempt to figure her level of availability.
Smiling, she shook her head again. She’d planned on giving him a fake last name, but so far he’d been too distracted to follow through and ask. The cad was making this easy. She hadn’t planned on that either. If things continued this way, she’d be back on a plane to the United States by tomorrow morning. One less psychopathic monster running loose in the world. A shattered family one step closer to healing.