NocC 023 - The Ancients 05 - Bonnie Vanak - Incubus Wolf - Harlequin 2012-09

BOOK: NocC 023 - The Ancients 05 - Bonnie Vanak - Incubus Wolf - Harlequin 2012-09
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NocC 023 - The Ancients 05 - Bonnie Vanak - Incubus Wolf - Harlequin 2012-09
The Ancients [5]
Nocturne
Harlequin (2012)

Alexandra Kosta once knew beauty and privilege as stepdaughter to the Fae king, until he banished her and scarred her for life. Now working as a bounty hunter, she's tasked with hunting down sexy werewolf Dominic Farrell. But Dominic is also part incubus, possessing the power to seduce any woman into doing his will.

When Alex is injured on the job and Dominic takes her back to his lodge, he agrees to release her--if she will share his bed first. Unlike most men, he doesn't recoil after seeing Alex in her natural state...and she cannot deny their overwhelming attraction.

But in order to save herself she has to turn Dominic over to the enemy. Can she destroy the one man who loves her as she is?

Alexandra Kosta once knew beauty and privilege as
stepdaughter to the Fae king, until he banished her and scarred her for life.
Now working as a bounty hunter, she’s tasked with hunting down sexy werewolf
Dominic Farrell. But Dominic is also part incubus, possessing the power to
seduce any woman into doing his will.

When Alex is injured on the job and Dominic takes her back to
his lodge, he agrees to release her—if she will share his bed first. Unlike most
men, he doesn’t recoil after seeing Alex in her natural state…and she cannot
deny their overwhelming attraction.

But in order to save herself she has to turn Dominic over to
the enemy. Can she destroy the one man who loves her as she is?

Incubus Wolf

Bonnie Vanak

Chapter 1

A seedy Alaskan bar was a strange place to search for a
rogue werewolf. Then again, Alexandra Kostra had been in more bizarre place.

Maybe if she said it enough, she’d believe it. Believe this
last and most dangerous job was a cakewalk. Alex paused, gathering her magick
around her like a velvet cloak. Bitter air swirled the dead leaves at her feet,
sent them scampering across the graveled parking lot.

Closing her eyes, she concentrated and changed her
appearance.

It paid to be a Fae bounty hunter who could glamour.

Thin ribbons of stale cigarette smoke floated on the musty air
as she strolled inside. Faded Christmas lights hung from the dusty rafters. From
a battered jukebox in the corner, a country singer wailed about losing his dog
and his wife. Alex cringed at the smell of spilt beer, spicy chili and cigars
and filtered out the scents. Smoky golden light from overhead showed a long
scarred wood bar, crowded with men. They swiveled and eyed her like fresh deer
meat as the door closed behind her. Alex swore one even drooled.

All except one. The man at the end, drinking a mug of golden
liquid, kept his head down, studying his beer. Her quarry.

Alex slid onto a stool, ordered a draft from the big-bellied
bartender. He nodded, lust gleaming in his eyes. Disguise was working. Yeehaw.
As if a big-breasted redhead dressed in skintight leather and a “come hither”
look in her innocent baby blues wouldn’t do the trick. Hell, Alex bet that in
this neck of He-Man territory, any breathing woman would suffice.

Except for rugged Dominic Farrell. Even though he hadn’t lifted
his head, she could see that no desperation showed in his eyes. He certainly
wasn’t possessed of the same avid hunger as the others because there was no
shortage of women to warm him on a cold Alaskan night. Women would walk for
hours over frozen tundra for just the promise of bliss from his caressing hands,
his hard body, his wicked tongue. No woman was safe from him.

Dominic was a hybrid, with incubus blood, which made him a very
sexy, very powerful and very dangerous werewolf.

And very difficult to catch and bring back to the demon prison
where he’d escaped from six months ago.

The offers started before she’d even settled on the stool.
Drink offers, offers of conversation, sad, desperate offers and the blunt offers
of sex. Alex smiled politely, bantered with a few men while focusing on
Dominic.

A hank of inky black hair hung over his wide forehead. His face
was bent toward the mug, a black cowboy hat hiding his expression. He looked
average in his faded sheepskin jacket, jeans and red-checked flannel shirt. But
even the other men gave him a respectful distance as if they sensed he was
trouble.

If the human men knew how deadly those fangs were, how they
could rip and pierce and shred to defend a woman Dominic wanted… they’d run
outside screaming into the cold night air.

Tonight, though, it seemed like Dominic wasn’t interested in
anything but his beer. He stared at it as if it held all life’s mysteries.

Alex opened a button, then another, to show off the body her
glamour conjured. Eyes opened wide, the other men leaned closer, their savage
appetites in full overdrive. The male attention brought back memories of another
era. Men had called her the most beautiful in the land.

Alex shoved aside the bitter thought.
Concentrate on your target. Get him to notice you
.

But Dominic didn’t even stir.

What, do I have to take off my clothes to
get you to notice?

Alex nudged the beer drinker dressed in a red-and-black checked
shirt who looked tall as Paul Bunyan. “Who’s that lone wolf?”

Lumberjack dude’s wide smile slipped. “That’s Dominic. Keeps to
himself. Not very friendly. You don’t want anything to do with him.”

The man began to sing off key, “Dominic the Donkey.”

Finally, her prey lifted his head, showing lean, rugged
features, and eyes of coldest blue. He gave the singer a look that would send
the bravest soul running. “You calling me an ass, Wheeler?”

Conversation halted. All heads swiveled to Dominic, then the
men stared at their drinks. Power rippled in the air, a subtle tendril that
stirred the molecules, thickened the tension. The smell of beer and liquor and
stale cologne faded, overtaken by a very male scent of pine forest, rainwater
and testosterone.

Dominic’s scent. The other men seemed to shrink within
themselves. If they had tails, they’d be lowered.

Alex’s fingers curled around her glass.

Blood draining from his face, Wheeler shook his head. “I’m
sorry man. Just kidding. Sorry. You’re no ass. I’m the ass, Dominic.”

Grunting, Dominic tossed a few bills by his half-drained glass,
nodded to the bartender. With the slow, stalking grace of a predator, he
approached. He gave Wheeler a cold stare, then his gaze fell upon Alex. His
nostrils flared and his eyes widened. A lazy smile played on his firm mouth.
That smile, so sexy and inviting…

The hurt young girl she’d once been resurfaced. She saw
herself, searching out the window for her lover, who’d promised to return. And
never had.

You have a job to do.

Alex was a good actress. She lowered her lashes and summoned
her sexiest smile. “Leaving so soon, stranger? Don’t want to stay and see what’s
on the table?”

He cocked his head, his eyes very blue, like lasers. “Is that
an offer, sweetheart?”

She shrugged. “I don’t think you’re up to the challenge.”

He said nothing, but studied her a moment. Then he leaped
forward with the savage speed of his kind, pulled her off the stool and into his
arms.

The kiss was absorbing, maddening, a fusing of lips. He tasted
of cold beer and hot desire. Lazily his tongue swept into her mouth, tasting her
with possessive intent. Her lower belly clenched hard as her nipples tightened.
It was the kiss of a man who wanted to lay a woman down and mount her. The kiss
of an incubus, who knew exactly what he wanted and how to get it.

In the corner, the jukebox played “Hot Blooded.” Alex’s mind
swirled with a shocked vortex of pleasure. Celibate for the past ten years, she
felt her body slowly kick from dormant to sexually charged. She slid her arms
around his neck, leaned into him and kissed him back. His beard bristle abraded
her cheeks. Beneath the layers of clothing, his body was hard with thick muscle.
A low growl rumbled from his throat as he stroked a thumb over her pulse,
feeling her heart shift from normal into overdrive.

He released her abruptly, amusement gleaming in those eyes.
Except now they weren’t ice-cold, but flaming. He wanted her.

And for a sheer moment, she desperately wanted him back. The
deep throbbing between her legs increased. Oh damn, this was not good. She
conjured images certain to tamp down the sexual pull, and to her relief, felt
the arousal vanish as if someone doused her with icy water.

Touching the brim of his hat, he nodded. “Evening, miss.”

The door slammed behind him.

It was just a kiss, but her body had burned from his touch.
Alex touched her mouth, her pulse racing.

“Hey, lady, I can show you a good time, too.”

Wheeler gave her the eye. Interest flaring on their faces, the
other men watched. First she had to throw off the wolves, so to speak. Alex gave
a smile she didn’t feel. “Someone want to play a slow tune? I feel like
dancing.”

Stools pushed back, boots scrambled to the jukebox. Quarters
and dollars were fumbled. Alex let the glamour drop to show her real face. The
men turned around, faces eager. Several gasps sounded, followed by looks of pure
horror.

Always, they stared. And then the whispers began.

“Damn, look at her face,” one said. “Looks like the ass end of
my truck.”

“Holy crap,” Wheeler said. “Thought she was hot. Must have been
the liquor.” He fumbled for a cell phone and dialed. “Hey, it’s me. You should
see the freak show at the bar….”

Alex felt the familiar twist of hurt.
Yeah, I know what I look like. Get over it, guys
.
Go kiss a moose.
She shrugged back into her coat and
went outside to follow Dominic Farrell.

 

Chapter 2

Alex could track anyone or anything. And with Dominic’s
scent burned into her brain, finding him wouldn’t be tough, not with the
tracking chip she’d slapped on his black pickup. Before he’d entered the bar,
she’d watched as he’d climbed out of the truck’s cab with a graceful,
lean-hipped swagger in his tight black jeans.

In her sleek SUV, Alex followed her quarry, keeping a safe
distance behind. After a few miles, she caught the flash of taillights. She
slowed as the truck pulled into a hayfield. He cut the engine and got out,
walking alongside the road.

Several yards behind him, Alex parked. She tailed him, making
no noise in her soft-soled boots, watching as he vaulted over a chain-link
fence.

Words on the gate proclaimed “See the Wild Wolves of
Alaska!”

Bile rose in her throat. She’d heard of this roadside
attraction’s cruelty. Her breath fogged the air as she climbed over the fence,
dropped down and followed Dominic. A ribbon of gravel drive threaded through a
thicket of pine trees and led to a small, darkened building. On the building’s
right side was another fence. A few men gathered outside the building. Alex
donned the glamour of a brunette with rosy cheeks and an apple-fresh look.

Then she hid behind a thick pine tree and watched.

“Let’s do it,” she heard him say quietly.

Breaking open the gate, the six vanished behind the compound.
Alex dashed after them and ground to a halt, shoving a fist into her mouth to
stifle her gasp.

Silver moonlight showed six gray wolves tied to a short length
of chain. Ribs jutted out from their lean bodies. They paraded around a pole,
their desperate whines echoing in the night. The scent of animal tinged the air,
along with the sharp taste of helpless fear.

Ducking behind a tree, she watched Dominic’s face tighten. He
and the others worked quickly, as the wolves closed around them, tails wagging
eagerly as if sensing friends. As each wolf sprang free and ran across the open
meadow, through the gate Dominic had opened, Alex felt a quiet, peculiar joy. As
if her own spirit were set free and bounding across the field.

“Damnit. Hold on, boy. Almost got it,” Dominic muttered.

Her throat closed as she watched him try to free the last wolf.
The chain wrapped around his throat, the gray wolf whimpered. Alex fought back
the miasma of pity. She had to focus on Dominic, not these poor creatures.

A light flicked on inside the nearby cabin. Someone stepped
onto the porch.

Dominic gave a low curse and with brute force, broke the chain.
The wolf, seemingly traumaticized, did not move. Not until Dominic slapped it on
its hindquarters. Dominic sprinted away as the man left the porch.

Alex followed. In the near distance to her left, metal glinted
in the moonlight. Wicked steel teeth lay below the leaves. Suddenly the wolf
headed toward the trap.

The wolf’s leg would snap under the pressure. Not if she could
help it. With a preternatural burst of speed, she passed the wolf, stepped into
the trap. Metal jaws slammed into her ankle. Pain shot through her bones,
rattling her teeth. She collapsed, fighting shock and burning agony.

The wolf bounded across the field, vanishing into the woods.
Safe! He was safe. Alex sat up, pushing past the pain and chanted a spell to
release the trap.

Nothing. She touched the trap and a blue arc leaped up,
shocking her nerves.

Magick. The trap was laced with it. And she was helpless.

The man coming toward her laughed. Boots crunched in the
crushed grass as he advanced.

“Here.”

The man sent a blue arc of energy into the trap and the jaws
sprang open. Alex pulled her ankle free, biting her lip. Burning pain seared her
skin. Crab-crawling away, she eyed her rescuer.

Moonlight glinted his silvery hair. He had a handsome face, but
a flicker of cruelty shone in his dark eyes. Robes of dark red velvet indicated
status. A wizard of great power.”Alexandra Kostra. The Society for the
Prevention of Malevolent Magick’s best paranormal bounty hunter.”

Alex’s heart raced. “How did you know…”

“I heard the rumors about your new hunt in Alaska. One of my
associates saw you in the bar, and told me you were following Dominic Farrell.”
The man patted the steel. “Dominic and his friends always stop by to free the
wolves I’ve captured. So I set out extra traps in case you happened to stop
by.”

“Nice greeting. Ever consider just a phone call?”

Every time she started a hunt, the underground paranormal world
whispered of her target because she always got her quarry.

“I have something you’ll want.” A vial of green liquid glowed
in the moonlight as he removed it from the folds of his robes. “I call it Beauty
in a Bottle. It will restore your former looks, everything you’ve dreamed of.
Alicia Cantros, the fairest Fae in the land.”

How the hell did this bastard know her real name? She’d worked
hard to leave behind Alicia, learned not to look back, and move on. Glamour
cloaked the ugly scars. As long as she remained celibate and asexual, the
tattoos covering her face never appeared.

“My dreams involve you, on the ground, one of those wolves you
tortured at your throat.”

“Don’t be so hasty.” He leaned close, darkness swirling in his
eyes. “Think of it, Alexandra/Alicia. You can once more be the golden-haired
Fae, who enchanted all men who gazed upon her.”

The old longing pushed to the surface. Alex struggled with her
emotions.

His voice was hypnotic and low. “No one will ever call you ugly
again. You won’t be forced to hide or disguise yourself just to enter a grocery
store. People won’t stare because your face appalls them.”

Tempting with promise, the lure dangled before her. But she’d
learned long ago that talk was cheap and men lied.

“There’s a price, of course. I will bargain with you for
it.”

Alex yanked free her dagger and held it to the man’s throat. “I
don’t bargain.”

Shocked, she watched him wave a hand, turning her dagger into a
daisy. What the…

“Allow me to introduce myself. Lord Belaramos, local wizard,
charmer and keeper of wild wolves. We can help each other, Alexandra. Despite
your puerile powers, you can get something I need.”

Alex dropped the daisy. Her fist smashed into the man’s nose
with a satisfying crack. He stumbled back and fell, blood streaming from his
nose.

“You little bitch!”

The wizard directed power on her injured ankle, sending fire
licking along the wound. Alex bit her lip to keep from crying out. Grayness
clouded her vision, threatening to drag her under. Not now… She fought against
it.

She jumped on him, wrapping her hands around his throat and
squeezing hard. “I don’t like the way you talk. Time to shut up.”

“You need me, Alexandra,” he wheezed. “Already the poison laced
into the trap is working through your body.”

Another lie. But she hesitated, just enough. He threw her off
and rolled.

“My traps…” He coughed. “Each trap is coated with a potion to
reveal the victim’s true nature, to prevent Dominic and his werewolves from
posing as real wolves. Whatever a person wishes to hide is exposed.”

He produced a hand mirror from his robes.

The wizard’s potion revealed her real face. Red runes swirled
in an intricate pattern on her brow, chin and cheeks. She touched her hair,
golden once more, curly and wavy.

Pretty hair. Butt-ugly face.

Panic surged in her mouth. She’d covered the tattoos with
glamour, much as a mortal woman used cosmetics.

Alex summoned all her glamour to hide them. She squeezed her
eyes shut. Opened them.

The runes still stood in ugly, stark relief.

She could no longer disguise herself. No longer hide her true
identity from Dominic Farrell and capture him. The dream of freedom and a little
cabin in the woods, payment for this assignment, vanished in the moonlight.

“The antidote is here.” Belaramos waved the vial.

“Give it to me.”

Uncorking it, he threw the contents. The liquid stung her eyes,
dripped down her cheeks. Shrieking, she lunged at him.

And stopped, captivated by the image in the mirror he held
out.

Alexandra of old… full, sensual mouth, large green eyes fringed
with golden lashes, flawless cheeks. The face of men’s dreams, not their
nightmares.

Her mother’s face. Everyone said how much she’d resembled her
beloved mother, who had died when Alex was only ten.

Rubbing the potion on her cheeks, she stared, her chest tight
with longing. For ten years, she’d been forced to use glamour to hide her
hideous face. But not even glamour could restore her original beauty. Thanks to
her stepfather’s curse, she would never look the same again.

Except now. Alex touched the glass in wonder.

“It’s really me,” she whispered.

Time to test drive this potion. Alex resumed the glamour of a
dark-haired woman with round cheeks. Seeing no runes, she patted her face in
disbelief.

“The potion will wear off in five days, but I’ll give you more.
Enough to be beautiful for the rest of your life. When you bring me Dominic
Farrell. Alive… or dead.”

The pain in her ankle became a dull throb, equaled by the cold
seeping into her bones. Belaramos promised her wildest dreams. “He’s promised
for the bounty.”

A slow, cold smile, icy as death. “A paltry bounty of what?
Compared to having everything you ever dreamed of. You’ll never have to run and
hide from the world.”

A lash of cruelty in that whisper. “You’ll never be ugly again.
Bring me Dominic Farrell. You can still collect your bounty. I’ll give you
evidence you caught him, and the Society will reward you.”

“Who the hell are you? Why do you want him?” she demanded.

“Five days, Alexandra. You have five days.” The wizard turned
for the cabin, and soon, the lights inside winked out.

Leaving her alone in the darkness, and the rapidly dropping
temperatures and a choice; to remain beautiful, or turn ugly forever.

 

BOOK: NocC 023 - The Ancients 05 - Bonnie Vanak - Incubus Wolf - Harlequin 2012-09
6.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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