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Authors: Virginia Cavanaugh

When Lust Rules

BOOK: When Lust Rules
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When Lust Rules

Virginia
Cavanaugh

 

Lusty dreams of a tall, muscular
man with long dark hair have filled Julie’s mind for the last few months,
leaving her wanting alone in her bed. It would be one thing if he was only a
figment of her imagination, but he is flesh and blood and even asked for her
phone number. But has he called? Hell no.

So when he shows up out of the blue
at her job, she really wants to push him away. But there’s something primal and
erotic about this man that calls to her.

Luken is reluctant to get involved
with a human female, but for some reason he can’t get Julie out of his head. He
has enough on his plate with running his new pack, but the little blonde
seductress presents a temptation he can’t resist.

But when Julie’s past catches up to
her, Luken is prepared to offer his protection, along with his bite, making her
one of his own.

 

A
Romantica®
shapeshifter
paranormal erotic romance
from Ellora’s
Cave

 

When Lust Rules
Virginia Cavanaugh

 

Chapter One

 

“Hey, waitress!”

Julie Drake ground her teeth as she tried to block the
annoying man calling her. The crowd seemed extra rowdy tonight at Harry’s Bar,
and Replacement Waitress Number Three didn’t seem to provide much help.
Why
in the hell did Tyra have to quit?

A deep breath entered her lungs as she loaded her tray with
the drinks from the bar. Little skeleton straws poked out from some of them.
Only another hour of this mess until last call. A pang of guilt speared her
chest. She knew better than to hold a grudge against Tyra for quitting. People
moved on. Some to greater things and others… Well, she just had to look for the
silver lining.

“Hey, Jules? You all right?”

Julie looked at the burly bartender, Mark Hinley, who stood
in front of a large Happy Halloween sign. Concern flashed in his green eyes as
he wiped his meaty fists on a white towel. “Yeah. I’m good. Just hoping the
next hour passes quick.”

He gave a curt nod and she picked up her tray, turning from
the bar and heading through the pool of bodies. Mark could be a real sweetheart
and had even asked her out once. Julie wished she could have said yes, but
truth be told there wasn’t any spark when she looked at him. Maybe it would’ve
been different if she hadn’t been haunted by fantasy-filled dreams of a man
with long dark hair and olive skin.
Luken
.

All she had was a first a name—no way to even look him up in
the telephone book. As if she would. She didn’t want to come across as a
desperate woman who couldn’t wait for him to call. But damn, it had been four
months since he’d come into the bar and asked for her number. She’d been sure
he’d call her. Now with Tyra gone, she didn’t have a way to ask what happened.
Hell, she was even curious about what happened between Tyra and the hottie who
had been sitting with Luken. But no one had heard from her since she’d quit.

That had been a strange night. The bar had been hopping and
Tyra had come in with a glum look on her face, but as the night had progressed
she’d started to smile. And not just the I-need-to-make-tips-so-smiles-make-more-than-frowns
kind of smile. It had been genuine. But then a really good-looking blond guy
had come up to her and it had looked as if her whole world came crumbling down.
She’d raced from the bar with him and had never come back.

Julie gasped, seeing the disaster coming, but unable to
avoid it. Glass crashed and shattered as various glasses filled with alcohol
sloshed and spilled. First one tray hit the floor and then a second. Laughter
and applause filled the room at a deafening roar as Julie tried to count to
ten, booze dripping from her face and soaking into her clothes. Replacement
Number Three apologized profusely as she pulled sopping wet napkins from her
own pocket, offering to help clean up the mess. Neither of them had managed to
avoid being splattered.

Julie wasn’t mad at her directly. The girl couldn’t help
that she was a klutz, but the rude patrons who seemed to get a kick out of her
soaked state had pushed her limits of control.

Without a word she shoved past the people who had gathered around
to witness her humiliation, and she bolted toward the back door. She just
needed a minute—a breath of fresh air. A year’s time had done nothing in making
this new lifestyle any easier. Country music blared in the background as she
forced yet another person aside who sought a chuckle at her expense. Drunks
could be such assholes. Her hands met the door and she plowed through it,
seeking refuge.

Cool air danced over her wet skin and she shivered as her
arms came up to hug her middle. The metal door swung shut behind her with a
thud. Her gaze panned the back lot, not looking for anything particular as she
tried to rein in her emotions. The trees swayed lightly in the breeze, dumping
more of their golden and red leaves onto the ground.

“The money and ease of my old life isn’t worth it,” she
whispered into the night as she squeezed her eyes shut, willing back the tears
that made them burn. She knew this would be a better life deep down, but some
nights were harder than others in believing that fact. Being the wife of a drug
lord had many perks, but it was the other end of the spectrum that turned her
stomach.

Her ex-husband Ivan Volkov sat in prison where he belonged.
There would be no more deaths in the living room at three in the morning. No
more beatings. No more bodies jerking and gasping as they died from too many
drugs. And for that peace she could suffer through waiting on drunks. She just
wanted to move on.

“Looks like you’re having a bad night.”

Julie whipped her head to the side at the sound of the deep
rumbling voice, searching for his frame in the darkened area near the trash
Dumpster. She knew that voice. Had she imagined it? Booted feet thumped the
pavement a second before he stepped into view.
Luken
.

His long hair swayed against his broad shoulders. A few dark
strands gripped the material of his jacket, freezing in place as the rest of
the silken length continued its gentle movement. Kissable lips quirked up in a
half smile, pulling the skin of his face just slightly tighter over his high
cheek bones. The yellow glow of the security light masked the golden-olive skin
she knew covered his body. Native American blood ran thick through his veins.
All around, he was such a contrast in looks when compared to Ivan. Whereas Ivan
was light and fair, Luken was dark and sensual. Luken stood tall and lean, his
muscles toned, but not overly large. He had a very athletic build, and even
though she couldn’t see through the V-neck T-shirt he wore, she figured his abs
would look like a washboard. Her heart rate quickened as she stared across the
space separating them. Desire began to bloom inside her, mixed with excitement.
Then irritation took its place. He hadn’t bothered to call her and now he
wanted to show up when she looked like a mop? “As if it matters.”

A full smile spread across his mouth as he continued to
approach. “Of course it matters.”

She huffed a breath of air and turned, reaching for the
handle of the back door. “I’ve got to get back inside.” It was just too much. A
suck-ass cherry on her suck-ass night of a sundae.
God, why did he have to
show up now?

A warm hand clasped her arm before she could grip the door
handle. She looked down. Strong fingers encircled her wrist. Warmth radiated
into her skin from the contact and her heart rate increased. She turned and
looked him in the eye.

“Don’t go yet.”

She sighed, wishing she could ignore the tingling awareness
his touch brought. It radiated up her arm and settled in her chest. She
recognized the fusion of hope and anticipation. Such a dangerous mix. “I’m
working.”

“I meant to call you.”

She gave a halfhearted laugh. “Meant to? But didn’t. I
really need to get back inside.”

“I’ve thought about you a lot.”

“Why are you saying these things now? I mean, you could’ve
just called.” Damn if she didn’t hate how wounded her words sounded to her own
ears. He would probably think her pathetic. She sure as hell thought of herself
that way right now.

His lips scrunched into a slight grimace. “Things have been
busy.”

“Well, now’s not a good time for me.” She shivered as
another gust of air whirled past. According to the weather report a cold front
was supposed to be moving in. Her gaze followed his to the front of her soaked
T-shirt. Her nipples drew into pebbled peaks, now visible beneath the material.
She pulled from his grasp and crossed her arms in front of her chest, glad the
ugly yellow lighting wouldn’t show the blush rising in her cheeks.

Luken’s gaze snapped back to her face as he shrugged out of
his jacket and swung it around her shoulders. He gripped the lapel and pulled
it closed around her. His body heat seeped into her skin as the intoxicating
scent of him entered her nose. Cologne like none she’d ever smelled before.
Warm summer nights mixed with a hint of spice. Her lower tummy tingled,
spreading to that spot between her legs that had her clenching her thighs
together.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call.”

She met his gaze. Dark-brown eyes stared down at her. It had
been awhile since she’d felt the quickening of desire that now began a slow
roll through her. “Why didn’t you?”

“It’s complicated.”

She pulled back, trying to remove the jacket, but he
wouldn’t release his hold on the front. “Where I come from, the translation is
you have a wife.” Too good to be true as usual.

He gave a tug on the jacket, pulling her closer to his
chest. “No. I don’t have a wife. Things have just been…complicated.”

Complicated was definitely something she didn’t need to add
to her life right now, even if it came in such a yummy package. “Listen. Why
don’t you come find me again when things aren’t so complicated?”

“And what if I want to just keep you where you are right
now, complications and all?”

His whispered words fanned hot, sweet breath over her face.
She felt herself leaning toward him even though the warning signals in her
brain were firing off like mad. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea.”

His head leaned in until his lips hovered above her own. She
took in a staggering breath as she wondered if he would kiss her.

“Right now it seems like an excellent idea. I want to taste
you.”

She licked her lips, ready for him to close the gap. She had
a feeling this would be one hell of a kiss.

“Hey! Get the hell away from her!”

Julie blinked, stunned as she pulled back from Luken. Was
that a growl? Her head turned and she saw Mark approaching. Awareness hit. He’d
thought Luken was trying to assault her. She quickly held up her hands and
stepped in front of Luken, but he advanced, bringing his chest in contact with
her back. “No, Mark. It’s fine. I’m fine.”

She could feel the tightening in Luken’s muscles behind her
and knew he held Mark’s stare. Neither male said anything for a few breaths as
they let their testosterone-fueled battle of wills play out. Finally Mark moved
his gaze back to her, and she couldn’t miss the flash of hurt she saw in the depths
of his eyes.

“I need you to come back in. The whole damn place is in an
uproar and Rachel won’t stop crying.”

Julie flinched as she felt another pang of guilt for letting
the new waitress take on the madness inside as she’d retreated. “Okay. I’ll be
right in.”

Mark shot one last pissed look at Luken before he stomped
inside. Julie released the breath she’d been holding as she turned to glance at
Luken again. “Sorry, I have to go.” She stripped off the jacket and tried to
hand it back to him.

“No. You keep it. Your wet shirt is clinging to your
breasts, and as much as I like the view…”

She scrambled to put the jacket back on. The sleeves were
too long so she shook her hands to shimmy the material down her arms. Before
she could reach for the front, Luken gripped each side. Her breath caught as he
slowly pulled the zipper up, his knuckles brushing across one sensitive nipple.
Even through the thick fabric of the jacket the light touch made her want to
moan. She bit into her lower lip, wishing she didn’t need to return inside. It
had been awhile since she’d had sex and her body protested the idea of walking
away from the drool-worthy man in front of her.

“When will I see you again?”

Luken shrugged. “Not sure.”

She wanted to prolong the moment but knew she needed to get
back to work. Would he kiss her good night? “I should go.”

Luken brushed his knuckles across her cheek bone and down
the side of her neck. “Yeah, you should go.”

She shivered, her eyelids dropping to half mast as her
tongue darted out to moisten her lower lip. And then he stepped back. Blinking,
she slightly shook her head as she noticed his retreat. She wanted to shout her
frustration as she watched him walk away. Teeth clenched, she turned and strode
into the bar. How could he come here and get her all worked up and then just
walk off as if it didn’t faze him? Damn, it was going to be a long night.

 

Luken held back the growl that threatened to escape his
lips. It was a miracle Julie hadn’t commented on the one he’d released when
they were interrupted. He fisted his hands as he walked down the street to his
truck. Normally he kept himself in check around humans, but something about
this female set him on edge.

Ever since he’d went into Harry’s Bar with Konrad months
back, thoughts of the beautiful petite blonde had plagued him. They’d gone to
check on Konrad’s mate Tyra because she’d been reluctant to accept the mate
bond that had forged between them. Julie had immediately caught his attention
as she came over to wait on them. But Konrad had tipped Julie fifty bucks to
let Tyra wait on them instead, so he could amp up his game of seduction. That
night Luken had tried to ignore the physical pull that had him sneaking looks
in Julie’s direction. A human lover wasn’t something he needed in his life, but
damn if her body didn’t call to him. The gentle sway of her hips had made him
want to nibble the flesh of her pert bottom. And her breasts. Damn if the full
mounds hadn’t made his mouth water for a taste of those delicate bits of skin.
He’d asked for her number before they left, but determination not to tie
himself up with a human had kept him from calling her. A relationship—casual or
otherwise—was something he really didn’t need right now as he worked to get his
own pack up and running. Wolves depended on him, and he’d be damned if he’d let
them down.

For a while determination worked. His days had been busy as
he settled in to his new role as alpha. He’d busted ass getting the members of
his pack into their homes and in to the swing of their new lives. Luken had
known one day he’d be released from Konrad’s pack. Konrad was like a brother to
him, but two alphas couldn’t remain in the same pack. If it hadn’t been for
their strong friendship they would have torn each other apart. Shortly after an
attack from another pack Konrad had cut him loose.

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