Moonlight Temptation
Stephanie Julian

Book four in the Lucani Lovers series.

Evie Simmons has major issues. She’s got magical powers she can’t control, she’s living in a house that isn’t hers, and her best friend is a seventeen-year-old werewolf. It’d be hilarious if it weren’t just so damn depressing. Add in the sexy shifter she can’t keep out of her mind and his hot-as-hell friend and it’s a recipe for disaster. Dr. Dane Dimitriou knows Evie has had a hard time adjusting to her new life as part of the Etruscan magical community—almost as difficult as his denial of his feelings for her have been. And he’s got the perfect cure—his best friend, Ryan Maguire. Easygoing Ryan is the complete opposite of stick-up-his-ass Dane. He can act as a buffer. Dane can get close, but not too close. Yeah, good luck with that. Together, these sexy men may be just what the doctor ordered for Evie. And the doctor himself may discover the cure for what ails him has been right in front of him all along.

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Moonlight Temptation ISBN 9781419932885 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Moonlight Temptation Copyright 2011 Stephanie Julian Edited by Grace Bradley Cover art by Syneca Electronic book publication January 2011 The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of Ellora’s Cave Publishing. With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502. Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without the publisher’s permission. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. (http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/). Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted material. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated. This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.

MOONLIGHT TEMPTATION Stephanie Julian .

Inc. Happy Meal: McDonald’s Corporation Hollister: Abercrombie & Fitch. Captain Underpants: Pilkey. Inc. Inc. Superman: DC Comics The Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers: Simon & Schuster. Inc. Inc. Jagermeister: Mast-Jägermeister AG Jeep: DaimlerChrysler Corporation Junior Mints: Tootsie Roll Brands LLC Lincoln Navigator: Ford Motor Company Mercedes: DaimlerChrysler AG Corporation Nancy Drew: Girl Detective: Simon & Schuster. Hot Topic: Hot Topic. Dav Coke: The Coca Cola Company Chanel: Chanel. Toyota Highlander: Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha TA Toyota Motor Corporation Vicodin: Abbott Laboratories Corporation Victoria’s Secret: V Secret Catalogue. Ruger: Sturm. Inc. Inc. Ruger & Company. Volkswagen: Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft .Trademarks Acknowledgement The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction: ABBA: Polar Music International Aeropostale: Seropostale Procurement Company. Inc. Converse All Star Chuck Taylor: Converse. Trading Co.

with a taste for power and wealth Praenuntio: Goddess Gift of foresight Pugio: a Roman dagger Quercioli: the offspring of a folletta and a linchetto. folletti): Etruscan female fairy Linchetto (pl. traditionally comprised of thirteen streghe Candela: Etruscan sprite. always female. always female Salbinelli: Etruscan satyr Sicari (pl: sicarii): assassin Silvani: one of the three original Etruscan Fata.Glossary Arus: magical power inherent in the Fata and Enu. linchetti): Etruscan night elf Malandante: descended from the Etruscans but born with a bent toward evil. Norse Berkserkir (bears) and French loup garou (wolves) . used to describe regular humans without magic Enu: humans of magical Etruscan descent Fata: elemental beings of magical Etruscan descent Folletta (pl. versipelli): literally “skin shifter”—shapeshifters including Etruscan Lucani (wolves). streghe): Etruscan witch Versipellis (pl. protectors of fields and forests Speculator: spy Strega (pl. races of Etruscan descent Boschetta: Etruscan coven. eteri): Etruscan for foreigner. tiny magical beings with wings and a certain glow about them Decurio: legion rank of commander Eteri (pl.

bright. Trying to use her “senses” to follow along. she took a deep breath.” Even after several months. open. Ugh. She’d been following a small. “Training. but she was a strega as well. come on! That’s cheating. It was airy. in late January. No. never cold. just saying it aloud still made her heart beat faster and her lungs tighten. how to control that wild energy she felt in her blood. Now she lived in a house that wasn’t hers. not witches. knowing Cat was close enough to hear every word she said. 7 . Who would’ve known that one little Italian grandmother a few times removed could wreak such havoc a hundred years down the line? Shaking that thought out of her head. even though Cat had been trying to help Evie with her training for the past few months.” Of course. home was a relative word right now. She and her brother had been sharing an apartment in Reading before… Well. She didn’t really have a home.” And now she sounded like a two year old throwing a tantrum. Actual freaking magic. With a sigh. Never hot. She had no idea what she was doing. anything that looked remotely recognizable. she thought about just giving up. trying to keep up. my ass. Pennsylvania. it was always temperate. An Etruscan witch who could control magic. just before. Just far enough for her to feel isolated. dark bundle of fur for what seemed like hours. “Streghe. “More like ‘Let’s torture the stupid eteri’. “Fine. Like I don’t get enough of that at home. even though Evie wouldn’t see her unless Cat wanted to be seen.” Evie mumbled under her breath. Not far from the city where she’d lived her entire life. Even now. situated somewhere in the wilds of Oley Township. Cut off. Not only had her house been built by a strega. actually.Moonlight Temptation Chapter One “Cat.” she muttered. seeing no recognizable path in the forest or…well. Not that it wasn’t a great house. Guess that’s what you got when you lived in a house built by witches. “Be that way about it.” Evangeline Simmons stumbled through the brush.

Which usually involved Evie fumbling around in the forest trying to find Cat. Evie had been an unknown quantity. or with her other dad. Some days. Of course. With her history and these new powers… Well. for some unknown reason. She no longer wore anything that wasn’t made of natural fibers. Cat wanted her to train. Those same women now tortured her on a daily basis. Since Evie had moved into Su Belludi’s vacant home. she would’ve hated the girl. She’d given up processed foods. They called it Strega Training 201. Kyle. though. light brown lashes and hair the color of a copper penny that fell down her back in waves so gorgeous. Evie had wondered if Cat was there to spy on her. She’d train. Catene Rossini Ferrante had become one of Evie’s closest friends. Cat had practically moved in with her. Cat was too nice to hate. Polyester. Only they didn’t call it torture. rayon. At first. In her human body. Only five years separated them by age.Stephanie Julian Seventeen. The crash course. The women who lived in this little village had been taught from birth that outsiders meant trouble. Cat stood nearly a head taller than Evie’s five-one and had at least a cup size on her. who knew what Evie might do? 8 . Only Cat. Fine. Evie felt as if she’d gone a few rounds with a Navy drill instructor. As it was. At first. Nica and Tira had fought for Evie to stay. Like today. had never worn makeup and used no skin care product that wasn’t made right here by the streghe. The girl was built like nobody’s business. though her brother John kept her supplied with contraband boxes of Junior Mints. brilliant and beautiful. several miles away. Margie. Evie slipped outside with Cat for “practical application”. Evie would’ve bet she had to curl it. And she appeared to worship Evie. most of the older women had flat-out refused to even consider Evie coming to live among them. At the end of most days. who lived just a few houses away. The rough tree bark bit into her skin through the fabric of her thick wool sweater and dull green cotton cargo pants. She spent the night with Evie more often than she stayed with her mom and dad. Bright blue eyes framed by thick. spandex…they irritated her skin. Evie put her back against the nearest tree and closed her eyes. though Evie sometimes thought Cat was way more adult than Evie would ever be. Blowing out a deep. who lived in the next township. drugs and alcohol were out of the question. cleansing breath. Cat didn’t own a curling iron. Of course she didn’t. If Evie had been just a little more bitchy.

she might as well buy the Brooklyn Bridge off the internet. A breeze ruffled the tree branches. The one person who didn’t treat her like a ten year old with a dreaded disease. She heard squirrels chattering. an intense young woman who made her normally taciturn brother laugh. on the frozen ground beneath her feet. Where was Cat? A rustle of brush to her left drew her attention and she opened her eyes. their claws scraping as they climbed trees or chased after one another here and there. She barely felt the presence of other tiny animals around her because most had hidden themselves as soon as they sensed the predator lurking among them. And thinking about that was sure to scatter her brain. She placed her hands flat on the sides of the tree and attempted to push out all thoughts of everything but Cat. Cat wasn’t a worried brother hovering over her or a well-meaning new sister named Kaine. And if she believed that. she focused on what she needed to do.” With a huff. all right. Cat. You’re safe here. she tried to get her body to relax. she’d had a really hard time with the dark. Concentrate. Even though she felt the sun shining through the leaves above. knowing Cat could hear her. Evie’s body relaxed more fully against the tree as the birdsong grew louder. Her strega powers. But the danger in not knowing how to control them… Well. she snapped her eyes shut again and let her body relax. At least. Breathe. After the kidnapping.” Shaking those thoughts out of her head. The girl still harbored some major guilt where Evie was concerned.Moonlight Temptation “Shit. Which was not what she was supposed to be doing. 9 . the tensing of her muscles. Which she wasn’t sure she wanted to know how to use in the first place. not her sight. her lack of sight threatened to throw her into a panic. that could be more dangerous than actually using them. “Here I go. the love of her brother’s life. Nothing will happen to you. Her best friend. They didn’t know Cat would no sooner hurt them than stab her own mother with a blade.” she spoke aloud. She fought the tightness in her chest. She was supposed to track Cat with her powers. “All right. The low rumble of a tractor in a neighboring farmer’s field distracted her for a second before she focused her attention lower. Evie had found it hard at first to get to know Kaine.

“I don’t know who you are. “Fat lot of good that did me. Even though fear made her jaw clench and her muscles ache with tension. The lucani were amazingly beautiful people. she didn’t want to ever feel that helpless again. Shaggy hair fell below his ears in all different shades of gold. Dane was right for a change. her hands clenched into fists and lifted into a ready position as she saw a man leaning against the tree behind her. Still. “I’ll be damned.” With a sigh. “but you need to leave right now. she opened her eyes. She turned to look over her shoulder.” she said. to trust in fate and let karma be her guide. uptilted eyes that glinted green in the sun. He was a freaking masculine work of art. Which didn’t mean he wasn’t dangerous. just stood there staring at her as if she were some fascinating bug he’d never seen before. the guy had gorgeous hair. when had she become so damn skeptical? Before.” The guy’s gaze narrowed as his head shifted to the side. His features reminded her of a lion’s—straight nose. I’m—” A gasp escaped her as she heard footsteps in the brush. she registered the guy’s beauty. You’re on private property. a pointed chin and broad. she’d been the one to believe in ghosts and physic energy.” 10 . She refused to be as vulnerable as she’d been when she’d been kidnapped last year. And she’d never seen him before. For the past few weeks John had been working on her self-defense training. They were also powerful and deadly. Even in their wolf forms. “Cat. His body held the lazy grace of that same big cat. this guy didn’t fit the Etruscan mold. “Who the hell are you?” The guy didn’t answer right away. He looked as if he spent his days lounging on a beach somewhere fighting off women.Stephanie Julian A rustle of brush behind her made her draw in a sharp breath and she fought to keep her eyes closed. She felt nothing except the dappled winter sun on her skin and the weight of defeat on her shoulders. Damn it. And even though that threat had been “neutralized” according to John. She couldn’t help staring back. A denim jacket covered a white tshirt stretched over broad shoulders and chest. white and wheat with hints of red and light brown and… Damn. they were gorgeous. to feel whatever the hell it was she was supposed to feel. flat cheekbones. Faded jeans clung to his muscled thighs and running shoes added to the laidback image. And full lips with just a hint of a smile.

“That doesn’t tell me why you’re here. that was Dane to a T. this guy did know Dane because. And knowing Dane. the animal had to weigh at least a hundred pounds. Those eyes were human. yeah. “Hi. “To tell you the truth. freezing her in place one second. Dane Dimitriou? “You know Dane?” “Unfortunately. I’m Ryan Maguire. And now her sex drive wanted to kick in too? Christ. “He told you I was beautiful?” “As a matter of fa—” A low growl rumbled behind Ryan. The Etruscan Goddess of Fate was one scary female. yes. “Not unless Dane told you to expect me.” Her lips tried to curve into a smile. But when Dane asks me to come meet a beautiful woman. The reaction startled her. In the next. raising goose bumps that had nothing to do with the low forty-degree temperature.” She blushed. She’d taken to sleeping with a light on. Fears she’d thought she’d conquered years ago had returned to plague her in the dark. The large gray wolf moved so silently. Tightening her fists. she’d better take that back. She’d actually met her. Lean and muscled. hoping to douse the unwanted attraction. she took a deep breath. she silently cursed her reaction. his dark eyes glued to hers. I’m sure he didn’t. She lowered her hands all the way as the wolf stopped at Ryan’s side. His half-assed grin let her know she wasn’t fooling him.” She tried to ignore the rough silk of his voice but it rubbed against her skin. She lowered her hands a fraction. I don’t typically turn him down. “Is your name supposed to mean something to me?” She tried to force some strength into her voice but it still came out shaky.Moonlight Temptation Evie blinked. something she hadn’t done a lot of lately. “So you are…” “Very pleased to meet you. isn’t he?” Okay. Did he mean Dr. Her gaze automatically sought the animal that’d produced the sound and found him sliding out from behind the trunk of a massive pine a few yards behind Ryan.” Then the guy smiled and Evie felt her heart do a funny little flip. She didn’t want to tempt fate. she knew she never would’ve heard him if he hadn’t growled. The past few months of her life had been a jumbled mess. what the hell else could life possibly throw at her? No. 11 .” The guy’s grin widened. I’m not quite sure either. She’d lived with the Etruscans long enough to know that the growl of a wolf should not make her want to run screaming. eyes she knew. He’s the master of the sneak attack. and that same shiver of sensation raced through her again.

she’d pulled so much power she’d forced him to change into his wolf. Lately. “Trust you to do what?” she asked. Which.” Evie said. “Oh. but she knew from experience that once Cat latched on to something.” Evie knew that tone. Especially for a man who valued control as much as Dane.” ***** “So. Her brother John had been more than kind when he’d referred to anything she had to cook as “edible”.” Because the first time she’d met him. I definitely wouldn’t say that. “Of course not.Stephanie Julian She shook her head. harder than she’d planned. trying to ignore it as she stared at the wolf she’d come to recognize on sight. You know that. “Didn’t trust me. To call that disturbing would be an understatement. 12 . She’d never say anything derogatory to Cat. crunching away at a carrot as Evie tore lettuce for a salad. “Trust me to seduce you. wasn’t something she would ever say. given the fact Cat was also lucani.” “And Dane didn’t give you any hint that Ryan was coming?” The knife thunked against the wooden cutting board. she hadn’t wanted to know the answers to a lot of questions. Ryan’s coming for dinner?” Cat hopped up onto the kitchen counter. But really. “He caught me off guard and basically told me he’d see me later. And she still didn’t know how she’d gotten talked into making dinner for a man she’d just met today. she was like a dog with a bone. Dane doesn’t really like to talk to me. She considered ignoring the girl. Ryan’s smile made her stomach do curious things but it could have been the second growl from the animal at his feet. did you?” Ryan’s voice held an edge of amusement that made Evie frown and pull her gaze back to Ryan’s. “It wasn’t like I invited him. Cat wanted to talk about Dane. Her nerves were more than a little frazzled. how could she screw up steak and salad? Maybe she didn’t want to know the answer to that question. She’d never been much of a cook.

Cat had a Julia Roberts smile. Julia Roberts lit up like birthday cake full of glowing candles when she smiled. “Should I? I didn’t think I had to with you. Her blue eyes shone like sapphires and she just looked so damn pretty. He pawns me off on Dr. Cat didn’t seem to mind sharing her dads or her mom Margorie. He just doesn’t like me. when Evie had been so damn terrified. for which Evie would be eternally grateful. Who wouldn’t stop smiling at her. But as she’d already discovered.” “No. she turned to look at the girl. who’d been without parents for too many years. hey. you’re not. both men had treated her like another daughter. she nodded and started back in on the salad. No wonder— “Evie.” And she’d developed a completely ridiculous crush on the lucani doctor. who had a grin a mile wide on her face and wasn’t attempting to hide it. Evie decided.” Damn it. she hadn’t been able to hide it from Cat. Since those first tumultuous weeks with the Etruscans. I mean. Kyle and Dan.” Evie bit back a smile at the absolute surety in Cat’s tone. “Of course he likes you. are you okay?” Forcing a smile.” Cat said. had immediately taken to them. “I’m fine. which she hoped like hell she’d been able to hide from him. So did Cat. threatened every other day to lock her away until she was fifty. it was no wonder her dads. “But you seem to be coping okay right now.” Cat filched another carrot. But there were days she still wasn’t sure she wasn’t going to break. Of course.” Evie sighed and gave Cat a wry smile. Coming from a girl who’d never had a boyfriend. Evie should’ve dismissed Cat’s comment with a laugh. Gio or Tam whenever he can. It just made you pathetic. “Do you not have a filter between your brain and your mouth?” Cat lowered the carrot and stared wide-eyed at Evie. She wasn’t worldly in the sense that Evie was. I understand why you’re still weirded out occasionally. considering what you’ve been going through. It made her even more beautiful. And Evie. Cat was wise beyond her years. a history of substance abuse and depression didn’t exactly make you worldly. “He’s just a guy and you know how weird they get about women. Evie was pretty sure Dan was just teasing. Damn her stupid mouth. Evie would’ve cracked under the stress of the past few months if not for the community that had adopted her and John. Of course. the guy only touches me when he has no other choice. 13 . “Cat. let’s just say Evie wouldn’t put it past Kyle to mean it.Moonlight Temptation Putting the knife aside. Kyle… Well.

she’d felt her resolve failing.” “So you missed stuff. her lips pulled into a rueful frown. You know I didn’t mean anything. I was always looking for something else. Then when my dad died…” She’d looked for something to take away the pain. Her best friend was a seventeen-year-old werewolf who made magical healing potions from plants and trees. “I was never content. I didn’t know a lot of people my age. Forget I said that. Evie had never met anyone more content than Cat.” It wasn’t a question. her eyes narrowing as if trying to read between the lines of what Evie was saying.” “Why?” Simple question with no easy answer. Then again. A king. Leese is the closest strega to me and she was already nine when I was born. lately. That was so stupid of me.Stephanie Julian Evie shook her head. I was always looking for something better. It’s just…” “Just what?” A man she didn’t know had invited himself to dinner. Still… “Do you ever wonder what your life would’ve been like if you’d been born—” She was about to say normal but caught herself in time. And found relief in drugs. And right now. her definition of normal was a hell of a lot different than it had been six months ago. Growing up. “If you’d been born without power?” Cat tilted her head to the side. There are a couple of lucani kids around my age but I didn’t see them much growing up. I thought everyone was like me.” “More like I was never happy with where I was. At the request of a man she’d been lusting after for months. Which was another one of those weird things because Evie swore she saw Kyle in the shape of Cat’s eyes. My dad used to say I was always looking ahead and never saw what was right in front of me. Her brother had fallen for another lucani and pledged himself to the service of the lucani king. And you’re absolutely right. A gorgeous blond who’d told her he was there to seduce her. no one could have three biological parents and Cat definitely took after her mother in every way. I’m still occasionally weirded out by everything. Evie hopped up onto the opposite counter to face Cat. “You mean if I’d been born like you? Honestly?” She shrugged. “I don’t honestly know. Normal totally depended on where you were sitting. Mostly I was here. Cat. who stared at her with those blue. Setting the knife on the cutting board. “Shit. Weird did not even begin to cover it. from the willowy body to the red hair and blue eyes. for Christ’s sake. Dan had definitely given his daughter her smile. A man who could turn into a wolf.” “And you were content here. Of course. 14 . “No. At least temporarily. She’d kicked that habit but. blue eyes and Dan’s smile.

” ***** “This is a mistake. Cat. And try to have a good time. Ryan’s here. “I know. 15 . why the hell had he ever thought calling Ryan was the perfect solution to this particular problem? The second Ryan had shown up. Which was why this whole thing with Ryan was making her crazy. The coward had a patient. “And so is Dane.” Cat’s voice was low. One Dane couldn’t come up with an answer to. “You’re still here. “Embarrassing isn’t strong enough.” “No. “I don’t think seeing a patient qualifies as cowardice. “Anyway. I guess you don’t have to wait much longer. Vaffanculo. Dane made her feel so far from content.” Then she smiled. I failed at life. “Then why the hell did you get in the car?” Damn good question. she had to fight its pull with everything she had. You didn’t fail. Cat smiled and gave a little wave as she headed for the back door. This time. I’m afraid I’ll never be content. “I won’t judge. It’s just…” She sighed. Ryan sighed as he gave his hybrid Toyota Highlander a little more gas. kind. “Well. Why would Dane want him to seduce her? “So what exactly did Dane say when you called him?” Cat asked. “You know you can talk about the drugs with me. I failed.” Cat shook her head. She didn’t even know the guy. Which rubbed him in so many different directions. he didn’t know which way was up. Dane had been torn between wanting him to go the hell back to Philadelphia and pushing forward with his idea. “See ya later. it wasn’t funny. for Christ’s sake. “Nothing.Moonlight Temptation Even though she’d promised herself she’d never fall back into that black hole. nodding.” Cat laughed.” Dane Dimitriou had said the exact same thing at least three times already and his so-called friend had laughed at him every fucking time. “It does when he knew I’d be calling to find out what the hell was going on.” Cat’s head cocked to the side in a way Evie was beginning to know all too well.” And Dane certainly did not make her feel content. though. Evie.” Hopping off the counter.” Evie jumped back down and attacked the lettuce again. lightening Evie’s heart just enough.” Evie smiled.” Evie wished she could agree.

to take care of them. But Gio was starting to slow down. His brain was still sharp as a scalpel and his hands as solid as granite. treat their illnesses. you know that. Dane knew Ryan could help Evie with her transition into the Etruscan community. he was on call every day. his mouth pulled into a tight line. damn it. Most days it was more like ten. stitch their wounds. mainly muscular. “And you’re the one who came running when I asked. I know. for the lucani community. lucani were more susceptible to certain diseases. There wasn’t one day he could remember since completing his medical residency at Reading Hospital that he hadn’t seen at least one patient. He couldn’t be expected to be on call as he’d been for his entire working career. But not everything. three if you counted the king’s physician—lucani doctors with degrees in both veterinary and human medicine. Dr. But Dane had thought— No.” “Hey. Not mentally. you dick. Gio never did and he’d served for years as the only lucani general practitioner.Stephanie Julian It’d been a stupid idea to begin with. To deliver their babies. all day. Ryan. What you need to ask yourself is why you thought you needed my help in the first place. He wasn’t complaining. He would never complain. Dane was only thirty-one. “You know why.” “Then why the hell did you tell her I wanted you to seduce her? I never said that. He could handle it. he was never wrong. set their broken bones. their diseases. Because Ryan and Evie had something more in common than just being thrown into a situation they’d never imagined possible.” When Dane turned to look at Ryan. Wrong in so many ways. And for some reason. I’m here because you want my help. It was his turn. Yes. He held people’s lives in his hands on a daily basis. Nearly three thousand people in the tri-state area counted on him and his mentor. “You’re a stuck-up ass. And Dane wasn’t used to being wrong. I mean. he saw the other man nodding. it’s not like you don’t have other eteri around to help your pretty new resident cope. “Yeah.” True. As one of only two—well. As a matter of fact. right?” The dry tone of Ryan’s voice cut through Dane’s thoughts and he turned to his friend with his eyebrows raised.” 16 . He couldn’t be. the lucani could heal most wounds by shifting. But the man was almost seventy years old. Giorgio Marone.

Or maybe that was just wishful thinking. but you’re not my type. Fragile and easily broken and.” Ryan’s quiet tone drew him out of his thoughts and back to the present. “I thought…” He sighed. After that first conversation when she’d come out of the coma. when John looked at her. Because she was exactly Dane’s type. Before Ryan had known anything about the lucani. “All right. He would’ve smelled it on her. now…” Yeah. Evie. “Fuck you. And Evie. but Dane thought she was stronger than her brother gave her credit for. shaking his head as he tried to put his feelings into words. “Dane. He took stock of their surroundings and realized they’d almost reached New Tarquin. “Because you need a little discord in your perfect little world. He knew she wasn’t using now. yes. I get your reasoning. the smile returned to his friend’s mouth and his laugh reminded Dane of late nights studying in Ryan’s apartment in Philadelphia for their first-year exams.” Then there was the drug addiction.” He took a deep breath. Dane sensed the man’s guilt. She’d been kidnapped and tested like a lab rat by a woman the sicarii were holding in a secure cell in a secret holding facility in the woods around the lucani den. dickwad. There was something in her cool gray eyes that warned him away from the painful subject. she didn’t have an overabundance of curves but still managed to be feminine in all the right ways.” 17 . Or magic. “Look. bro. I thought having someone who’s been through the same process of discovery would help her realize she’s not as alone as she thinks she is. Petite and slight. tipped-up nose and rounded cheeks. After her captivity.” “You know I love you. He knew because he’d seen her naked. Not all of those were from her recent ordeal. Her brother thought he’d failed her. Evie was scarred. He’d been the first to examine her when John had brought her to Kyle’s.” Dane snorted. as well. She’d had bruises on her wrists and ankles from the restraints used by her captors and track marks on the inside of her slim arms. she needs someone to talk to. he hadn’t said a word about them and she’d never mentioned them again. “Yeah.Moonlight Temptation In a flash. Light brown curls framed her pretty face with its pointed chin. Her brother John treated her like a porcelain doll. Evie was exactly Ryan’s type.” “And then there’s the drug addiction.

he liked Evie. “But that doesn’t tell me why you’re here in the car with me.” Ryan smirked at him. man. “Dane. “Seriously. you need to tell me what the hell I’m doing here since it’s so fucking obvious you like her.” “Fuck you. even if Dane could explain. But when Ryan had walked toward the door. man.Stephanie Julian Ryan took the turn into New Tarquin on two wheels. Fuck. now I know what’s going on. I like her. “All right.” 18 . Christ. how much more badly could he fuck this up? “When the hell did you become a shrink? Last I knew you were a vet. What I don’t know is why you think you can’t have her. But I wanna know why you haven’t asked her out yourself. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d done that. he hoped it wasn’t obvious to anyone other than Ryan. he didn’t know how to describe the way he felt about Evie.” Maybe Ryan knew him a little too well. why the hell don’t you just tell her?” Yes. Dane had felt his lungs constrict as if someone had reached into his chest and mashed them in their fists. if you like the girl.” Because I couldn’t stay home. Hell. “Last I checked. It’s just not gonna happen. Ryan never passed up the chance to needle him. Why the hell were you looking at my balls. not wanting to give Ryan the satisfaction of rattling him.” “Figure out what?” “It’s your mom. you still had balls. Dane had had every intention of staying the hell home tonight. “I called you because I thought you’d like her.” Ryan spared him a quick. What’s not to like? She’s a beauty. And Ryan would never understand the why of that. “No shit. I prescribed you. He loved the guy like family but that also meant he wanted to strangle him sometimes too. disbelieving glance.” Vaffanculo. I don’t know why it took me this long to figure it out. you want her. And she needs someone to talk to. As her doctor. If his mother found out… “Nothing can happen between Evie and me. He caught himself at the last minute. but not in the way Ryan meant. But… Yeah. Sherlock. He only knew there was no way in hell he could have any kind of relationship with her except a professional one. making Dane nearly grab for the holy-shit handle above the door.” Ryan’s expression cleared and he started to nod. anyway?” Ryan’s deep laughter filled the car and Dane’s mouth finally curved in a smile. saccente.

19 . Your parents treated you like a crown fucking prince. he’d been thinking more and more about the deal his mother wanted him to make.Moonlight Temptation Dane stilled even as his brain began to churn. “Jesus. “We’re here. But for all that brilliance. He was fucking brilliant. The last time we talked about this you called her a cold fish. are you fucking nuts?” The utter disbelief in Ryan’s voice made Dane’s lips curl in a half-assed sneer that wasn’t really directed at Ryan. But this wasn’t a conversation he wanted to continue now. Third house on the left. Actually. he knew Ryan couldn’t read his mind so his friend really did know him too well. sometimes he could be incredibly stupid. And wondered if he really knew the guy at all. didn’t have to. truthfully. Dane. the guy was more than smart. You were spoiled rotten as a child. He’d been groomed to be a doctor since birth and he’d had the brains to justify his parents’ hopes and dreams.” Ryan snorted. Of course you were being a dick but you come by it honestly. “What if I don’t want to tell her no?” Ryan whipped his head around to look at him. “So you’ve actually gotten to know the cold fish?” Dane swallowed the easy lie that rose to his lips. Damn it. There was no way in hell Ryan could have inferred what he had from anything Dane had said. his shocked expression priceless. “When the hell are you just going to tell her you’re not marrying the little wolfie princess she picked out for you and be done with it?” Dane took a minute to think about how he was going to answer that one because.” “Maybe I was being a dick. And thankfully.” Dane had been an only child for fifteen years before his sister Miranda came along.” “There are ways around that other than an arranged marriage.” Ryan parked the truck in front of the house Dane had pointed out and shut off the engine. Then he turned to face the man he considered his best friend. Dane. complete with silver spoon. Ryan. I thought you didn’t even like the girl your mom picked out. “What the fuck are you talking about? Are you telling me you’re actually thinking about caving?” Would it be caving? Or would he simply be solving an unresolved issue? “Damn it. His best friend deserved better. “Maybe I’m just sick and tired of having no one to go home to at night.

just drop it. It’d taken Ryan weeks to come to grips with the fact there were things in the world that couldn’t be explained by the narrow confines of science. He wanted to say something. Dude. are you seriously considering marrying a girl because your mother decided she’d be the perfect wife?” Dane sighed. Ryan staring at Dane. I’m sick of coming home to an empty house. With his head down. 20 . okay?” Something in Dane’s voice made Ryan stop and take a good. “What the hell does it matter who I marry? I’m not looking for love. “No. Ryan. Vaffanculo.” “Then why the hell do you need a wife?” “I told you.” Ryan’s eyes widened. hard look at his friend.” “So get a cat. just forget I said that. what the hell—” “No. practically throwing himself out of the car before he grabbed the bags of food from the backseat and headed for the front door. Ryan caught up to Dane just before he reached the front door. Dane had shaken Ryan’s safe. yeah. it’s gotta be better than the nothing I’ve got now. For the past decade. Something to do with the woman in that house. He didn’t understand Dane’s apocalyptic attitude. “Dane.Stephanie Julian “Dane. A being straight out of mythology. not even when he was frustrated or pissed off. he looked as if he were headed for the gallows. Something had changed. She was just a girl. Ryan. He’d never seen Dane rattled. And for the first time since Dane had been forced to reveal the truth of his life to Ryan. Dane sighed and opened the door. Dane staring out the window. What Ryan couldn’t figure out was why. Ryan had seen Dane handle every situation with a confidence that never seemed to falter. The fact Dane was one of those things had thrown Ryan’s formerly normal world off-kilter. but Dane reached out to knock before Ryan could open his mouth. staring out the window at the house. obey me fashion. Strain showed in the tight line of his jaw and the fists now clenched on his thighs.” Dane held up his hand in classic I am Master Dane. And that definitely made her special. Not even when Dane had revealed himself to be something other than human. anything to try to ease Dane out of this mood. do you honestly think you’re gonna be happy with a virtual stranger living in your home?” “Fuck. They sat in silence for at least a minute. But… Maybe Dane knew she could be something more. A pretty one. he looked as if he was about to crack around the edges. normal world to its foundations with that news.

stiff and still behind him. Surreal didn’t begin to describe the situation. I hope it’s not too much of an imposition. “Would you like something to drink?” Strain. “Nice place. almost as if she’d hit him. “We brought dinner. I didn’t know.” Dane’s chin tipped back. “Hey. Evie. “I… I’m sorry. Sure. he’d seen a woman and fallen in lust before. a downtown Reading restaurant favored by the Etruscans. “You know. so obvious in the lines between her eyes and around her pretty mouth. He’d never experienced anything like it.” Ryan said. Her mouth quirked in what might have been a grin. Evie Simmons took a deep breath and straightened. This… “Hello again. I didn’t know you were coming. appreciating the sway of her slim hips as she led them through the house. Dane looked brittle enough to crack at a harsh word. “I just…” He was going to kill Dane when he got him alone.” He held out his hand. “I figured we’d eat in the kitchen if that’s okay?” “Fine by me. Ryan stepped through the threshold. break a few bones.” Her gaze flipped back to Dane. forcing Dane to follow so Evie could close the door. The door opened only seconds later and wary gray eyes met his before flicking to Dane. “I know. But that had been different.” There. that got her attention. I’m not exactly the world’s best cook. almost as if she were preparing for battle.” He held out the bags of food they’d ordered from The Cellar. “Dane. Or. the whole addiction thing makes it a problem for me. It’s…on loan. anyway.” She forced a smile as she stepped away from the door and waved them in with her free hand. you know what? I think we need a do-over. as much as I think a bottle before dinner would really make the conversation flow. “Hi. I’m a veterinarian from 21 .” “Thanks but I can’t take any credit for it. Or maybe not. I’m Ryan. Her fingers clenched into fists for a second before she turned to both men with another forced smile.” She set the food on the table slightly harder than she should have and the cartons inside shifted and crackled. they’d play this Dane’s way for now. made him sigh.Moonlight Temptation Fine.” Christ. When Dane hesitated.” The self-deprecating tone of Evie’s voice drew Ryan’s attention back to the woman. which she took with a bemused smile. “Probably better for everyone that you did. The guy could heal them in minutes. at the very least. And the attraction he’d felt earlier today hit him broadside.

He wasn’t surprised they had the same opinion. For the past hour and a half. but he’s not such a bad guy when you get to know him. but he’d put Evie at ease. “which doesn’t say a lot for my taste in friends. Damn. tentative but transformative. I found a wolf in the alley behind my apartment building.” He pointed his thumb over his shoulder in Dane’s general direction. silently watching. he just wanted to sit here and listen to her talk. But he enjoyed watching her much more than verbally sparring with her. the girl was pretty. He’s actually a damn good friend who stands by you when you need him most. even when you’re a recovering Vicodin addict like me. Now it’s time to eat.” Dane had no idea how Ryan had managed it. “One night in vet school. He considered entering the conversation just so she’d turn those beautiful eyes his way and take him to task for not wanting to chain himself to a redwood. I know. single and my best friend is this guy. And now he had a hard-on listening to her. He hated to screw up her plans but he’d tried to minimize the chaos he’d caused with his appearance. Although. no one would notice because Ryan and Evie were engrossed in conversation about global warming.Stephanie Julian Philadelphia. Thankfully. Right now. He doesn’t judge. that the industrialized countries of the world were killing the planet.” he continued. 22 . Evie hadn’t been expecting him so it made sense to bring dinner for the three of them rather than stress her out about not having made enough. He’d sat on his side of the square table. Trying not to make it obvious he couldn’t take his eyes off her.” There was her smile. And he knew if he opened his mouth and said that. Talking. Dane admired their stance but his life was consumed by saving people. How her laughter made his blood flow thick and hot through his veins and how every time she looked his way. Hell.” he nodded toward Dane. occasionally laughing. he could’ve counted on one finger. her gaze thoughtful. both of them. “Now he’s got a stick up his ass tonight for some reason. Dane could count on one hand the number of times he’d heard Evie laugh before tonight. relaxed into their chairs after finishing the meal he and Ryan had picked up. Evie would tell him there wouldn’t be any people if there weren’t any trees. Tree huggers. he wanted to make her smile at him. Try not to hold it against me. Dane asked me to come because he knew that and he actually does want to help. Ryan and Evie had sat on opposite sides of the table. not trees. After I removed the bullet from its leg. I’m thirty years old. he hadn’t made much of an impact on the situation so far. that wolf became Dane. “You and I. “have a lot in common.” Her smile faded but she maintained eye contact.

She’d screamed herself hoarse and it’d taken two days for her to be able to look him in the eyes after that. at least. the man definitely has a God complex. Both of them too driven to want the distraction of a full-time relationship. The guy never looked at Dane again for the rest of the semester. Damn it. he knew he couldn’t lie to himself any more. “So Dane saved the semester.” “Oh. She’d screamed when she’d seen him transform from man to wolf. Which shouldn’t surprise him. since the last time they’d hit a bar and picked up a woman. They’d been too busy with school to have love lives.” Ryan’s smile broadened as he turned to Dane with a look he knew well. He knew exactly why Dane had invited him. Which made sense. If they got Evie into a bed— No. He unnerved her.Moonlight Temptation Which was pretty damn pathetic. He shouldn’t even fucking be here. He’d been her first. “But he has his uses. he shouldn’t be thinking of Evie in those terms. Almost as if she’d forgotten he was there. Evie turned to Dane with a look he would have sworn was surprise. The unspoken reason he was here. It’s been a while since he’d seen Ryan in action. What the hell had he been thinking— “So Dane gets the professor to recant in front of the whole class and forces him to change everyone’s grade. And when Evie flashed him one of her so-very-rare smiles. Dane caught the challenge in Ryan’s eyes and realized he’d just been put on notice. Fighting back the need to shake his head. Nights when Dane would have a few beers as Ryan chose their prey for the night then seduced her back to his apartment where he and Dane would fuck her all night long. He knew exactly why he’d come tonight. Do or die time. Dane had memories of late nights in a dark bar on South Street in Philadelphia.” Vaffanculo. The women were always more than willing and they left the next morning sated. huh? Sounds like he’s a regular Superman. Ryan was no idiot. He figured she’d been trying to forget him since the moment he’d walked through the door. But they never had the same woman twice.” Put up or shut up. he transferred his gaze to Ryan. Her first lucani. Five years. It was why their unique arrangement had worked. And now he wanted to seduce her? 23 .

The best thing he could do for her would be to walk away. well. fuck that. “That’s because I’m damn good at what I do.” 24 .Stephanie Julian He was delusional. Yeah. Certifiable.” he said. “And I don’t only mean in the office.

To actually remember what a normal interaction with a guy should be like. But this wasn’t a date. Never speaking unless he had something meaningful to say. He hadn’t been arrogant or disinterested or cold. He teased and flirted. He’d just been…Dane. But what exactly did she want? 25 . she didn’t think this was a date. That was… What? Scary? Thrilling? Dumbfounding? No. usually in response to a specific question from Ryan. It’d been a damn long time since she’d flirted with anyone. With the man she lusted after but had come to believe she could never have. A man she’d fallen for in the space of a few hours. If she read that smile correctly… He wanted her. she remembered.Moonlight Temptation Chapter Two Evie blinked. Now Ryan… From the moment Ryan had suggested a do-over. Her mouth dried at the unexpectedly devastating smile on Dane’s face. It was dinner. She’d grown used to his prolonged silences. he joked. Dane hadn’t said more than a handful of words. Of course. Always watchful with those sharp. Well. Ryan was exactly the kind of guy she’d have gone after before her life had fallen into the land of werewolves and witches. For the past hour and a half. that couldn’t be right. her eyes flashing wide as heat kindled between her legs and in the pit of her stomach. he’d allowed her to breathe again. She had to be reading him wrong. Holy shit. And a man who made her feel sexy and smart and desirable. At least. She hadn’t been sure she remembered how. dark eyes. He laughed. Since she’d wanted to flirt with anyone. she’d never been on a date with two guys. Quiet. And she wanted.

his dark eyes narrowed on hers. there were rules to magic. She’d never been completely comfortable in her own skin. Which was why she’d developed an addiction to heroin. Ryan. Evie. her internal walls began to rise.” Frankly. she let her smile curve just the corners of her mouth. “I’m sorry. she had a glimpse of him ripping his shirt over his head and a flash of golden skin. Dane. What the hell did she think she was doing? She barely had a handle on these new. “So tell me.Stephanie Julian Tilting her head to the side. Which made her wonder what he expected her to do. “I… This is my fault. as if he was gauging her reaction to whatever it was he wanted to say. “Don’t. And now she thought she could handle this? With a sigh. “God damn it. Shit. He sat at the table. As if she’d flipped a switch. As with everything. the cravings. she shook her head and started to rise but Dane reached across the table and grabbed her hand. I shouldn’t have come. but she didn’t know what to say.” Ryan’s harsh mutter made her turn to him. Those walls had been her saving grace for so many years. watching her.” With an angry huff. the emotions. Or push you. If she looked out the window. She dropped her gaze to stare at the table. anything. she knew she’d see him stripping off the rest of his clothes. shutting off any and all emotion. she had no idea what they’d intended. where else do you excel?” Their gazes caught and held. The fear. I’ll see you back at the house. He grabbed the knob and twisted it with leashed violence. he released her and stood. Which was just weird. Her gaze immediately flew back to his and she swore she saw anger in his eyes. Gods damn it. As he strode through. freaky powers she’d been cursed with. They’d helped her get clean and helped her stay clean. his expression tight with regret. He had to take off his clothes before he shifted or they’d be ruined in the transformation. 26 . They’d kept the bad stuff at bay. She registered the ripple and play of sleek muscle before the door closed behind him. This dinner wasn’t meant to upset you. And he’d already made it to the front door. now doubt began to nip at her confidence.” She opened her mouth to say something. This wasn’t…what we—what I intended.

“No. “Please. What the fuck are you doing here?” Ryan had to work to keep the smile off his face as he leaned back into his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. Still. And can you honestly tell me you’re not worried too? Worried about slipping back into old habits?” 27 . I didn’t say that. Trouble wasn’t always bad. watching that blank slate she’d forced over her expression begin to crack around the edges. I’m tired and I’m afraid I won’t be much fun. “You want the unvarnished truth? Or you want me to sugarcoat it for you?” She rolled her eyes. Your friends are worried about you.Moonlight Temptation So maybe they’d kept some of the good stuff away too but she had enough drama in her life right now. He really hated that. As her back straightened. You’re terrified you’re going to slip up and hurt someone. After a deep breath. I said they’re worried. Time to clean up the mess. The Evie Dane had told him was under the fear and the uncertainty. unemotional. “You don’t know the first thing about me and I certainly don’t know anything about you. But it’d taken Dane’s leaving to get her to emerge. her defense mechanisms kicked in. she started to gather the plates. It took a damn strong will to keep it in place. He’d worry about that later. She was good at it. her hands trembled as she set them in the sink. Rising from her seat. If all she needed to do to distract him was breathe. her small breasts pressing against her arms. Ryan. How am I doing so far?” She took a deep breath. Right now. Give it to me straight.” “Fine. She’d had a lot of practice. she’d asked him a couple of questions.” “Does that work for you? Shutting down?” She nearly stumbled over her feet as she headed for the kitchen but caught herself in time to save the dishes. You’re a recovering addict who discovered powers you never dreamed about. He definitely liked this Evie better. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. He continued to stare at her. they were in more trouble than he’d thought. I appreciate the effort but you should probably get going. distracting the hell out of him. Why would she even think about compounding it by getting involved with a guy? And two was definitely out of the question. do they?” Her voice sounded distant. “They don’t trust me. This was the woman who’d beaten a drug addiction and depression through sheer force of will. “Thank you for dinner. she turned to confront the man she really didn’t know staring at her. Here was the Evie he’d wanted to meet all night.

” He rose from his chair. but fuck. his thighs. “They think I’m going to use again. she was sweet. small but firm mounds he wanted to get his mouth on. But as soon as she opened to him. Besides. five days. He hadn’t meant to devour her. hot. Lust burned low in his gut. opening her mouth wider. family. He crushed her soft lips beneath his. her tone was steady. life. Even fully clothed. she wouldn’t understand. “She’s wise beyond her years in some areas and innocent as a baby in others. 28 . Those are usually the days I’m stressed about something else. I get that. Unable not to. unable to stay seated any longer. He crowded closer to her. Not yet. because you don’t want to worry him. Some days are better than others. Work. he wanted to suck on her nipples and hear her cry out his name. would she?” Evie shook her head. I call Dane. just before his lips landed on hers. she stilled. eight months. “How long have you been clean. He drew back. kissing her harder. soft. She let him kiss her. slid his tongue into her mouth and proceeded to lose all common sense. He felt her take a deep breath.Stephanie Julian She blinked and hurt flashed through her eyes. drew her body against his. Let it brush against his cock. Some days I don’t remember what it was like to have that monkey on my back. They’d barely fill his palm. even as her lips parted for him. Her eyelids fell as if she were blocking out the sight of him but she didn’t pull away. And you don’t want to scare Cat. “Three years. Her breasts nestled against his chest. She’s barely seventeen. let him tilt her head so he could slide his tongue between those soft lips and plunder her mouth. The fingers of one hand threaded through the short strands of her hair. baby-fine. drawing her closer. and walked to her side by the sink. Evie?” Her lips trembled but when she spoke. as if preparing to submerge herself in water. only centimeters. “You won’t talk to your brother. He wanted to rub it against his chest. Sweet. I think about it more than I should. “I’ve got almost ten years under my belt. Her acquiescence made his cock throb and harden. flashed hotter and brighter.” “And I left innocent behind a long time ago. she burned against him. then spread like quicksilver. lust roared up with a vengeance. Some days. When it gets bad. When it gets bad. Beneath his hands. to draw in air but dived right back in. Christ.” He let his hands settle on her shoulders. who do you call?” She opened her mouth but nothing came out. seeking her heat. He’d only meant to taste her.” He bent to kiss her. He didn’t give in to the urge to touch her. silky. giving her no time to back away.

he felt her shiver against him. To scrape those short little nails along his skin while he spread her legs and sank into her heat. And when he couldn’t wait any longer to touch her. He didn’t want tentative. Groaning low in his throat. The dazed passion on her face made his gut clench and his balls tighten even further. tentative. She might not weigh more than a hundred pounds but she was wiry strong. felt too good in his arms. encouraging her to wrap her legs around his waist. He wanted the Evie who’d pulled herself through a hellacious ordeal. his arms tightened around her as he lifted her higher. When he finally managed to get a few inches between their lips. taking a step away from him. She tasted too good. rubbing against her. she moaned and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. Her head dropped but he reached out and tugged on her hair to get her to open her eyes and look up at him. He arched forward. seeking to rub his cock between her legs but she was too short.” 29 . to let them both cool down a little. But it took him several minutes before he could drag his mouth away from hers. And strong enough to stand up to Dane. Then he spread his hands on her hips and lifted her. “Evie. Every soft inch of her pressed against him. Still. seeking just a little relief from the burning lust. short fingernails digging into the bunched muscles. He wanted to order her to put her hands under his shirt. She wasn’t ready for that. he’d sink his cock between her pretty lips and let her suck him off. He needed to pull back. so small and delicate. he had to take one more kiss before he made a move to release her. As if she’d read his thoughts. The pressure made him groan. gripped him tightly. Her tongue flicked against his. Not yet. She weighed practically nothing. Her mound brushed against his cock through the layers of their clothing then pressed against it. The woman strong enough to put up with him. So he let his hands slide down her back until he reached her waist. this was moving too damn fast.Moonlight Temptation He wanted to watch as Dane stripped her naked. She immediately released her legs from around his waist and stood. bent her over the arm of a chair and fucked her. He couldn’t do what he wanted and strip her down. Her hands. slight and tiny and… Aw hell. His hips pressed forward.

so she traded her jeans and blouse for running clothes. He smiled and watched her gaze dip down to his mouth for a brief second. “Seven’s fine. if he stayed any longer. Dane said you like to run. “Glad to hear it. he leaned in and stole one more quick kiss. if at all. “Sure.” ***** Evie knew she wouldn’t be able to sleep yet. If he’d been here… Hell.Stephanie Julian She took a deep breath. He’d actually get to sleep in tomorrow. “Sleep tight. No one did here. As if she couldn’t. her smile made a tentative return appearance. “What’s your pace?” “I can hold my own at an eight-minute mile. maybe they wouldn’t have stopped. It’ll be nice to have someone to run with. Evie. “I’m fine.” It took her a few seconds to nod but when she did. then shook her head. I’ll see you tomorrow. “Evie. As if trying to get her bearings. His brain had a few glitches at the moment and. Okay. He wasn’t convinced she was as damaged as Dane seemed to think. she didn’t bother to lock the door.” Then. because he couldn’t resist. If anyone who wasn’t expected breached the magical wards surrounding this little village. She blinked once. She’d set off a few alarms when she left the two-lane road that 30 . I usually head out around seven but we can go later if you want.” And maybe she really was. he’d kiss her again. He might not want to leave at all. The outside temperature hovered around thirty-five. I’ll be here. the streghe would know. She might be a little cold to start but once she got going she’d be warm enough. God damn Dane. So. And that would be rushing things. if he’d stayed.” Her smile broadened.” He usually had his workout in by then and was at the office by seven-thirty. Confused arousal. Then she took a deep breath and looked into his eyes. Join the club. so she pulled on thick tights and doubled up on the long-sleeved shirts. twice. Stepping out onto the porch. those delicate arches perfectly conveying her emotional state. More than they already were. her lips parting to allow her to get more air. are you okay?” She raised her eyebrows. I thought we could meet up and do a few miles.

on a clear day. To the east. He wanted her to know he was there. Of chasing the moon and the wolf up the hill. She’d been tired pretty much since she got here. she wouldn’t have. the city of Reading sprawled along the Schuylkill River. There’d been no snow yet. They ran together for a mile and a half. the hills and valleys of the Oley Valley. After that dinner. on any given day. she might not sleep for a week. she simply enjoyed the burn in her muscles that forced out all other thoughts. endorphins clearing her head of everything but putting one foot in front of the other.Moonlight Temptation led into the village and headed into the trails winding through the small forest at the edge of the village but the streghe would know it was her. No tree roots or rocks to trip her up. Up here. It also provided enough light to catch a glimpse of the wolf who ran by her side. where she typically turned around on her three-mile loop. though she knew she couldn’t outrun her memories. Hell. 31 . though she could never see it. she had an excuse. where her little village was situated. Right now. The waxing moon provided enough light to filter through the bare tree limbs and show her the way. knowing it was going to take exhaustion to put her to sleep tonight. She knew if he hadn’t wanted her to see him.” she muttered then drew in a deep breath of crisp night air before heading out. A few of the older ones probably wished she’d leave and never come back. To the north. She ran faster. The frozen ground jarred her knees and hips but a hot shower would totally take care of that later. you could see for miles. that kiss… Hell. Which wouldn’t do anyone any good because she was a cranky bitch when she didn’t get enough sleep. the lucani den lay hidden in the woods of Rockland Township. Since she’d been here these past few months. she wished she could go and never return. though it was mid-January. And the trails were remarkably clear. But she could shut them down by pushing herself and her body to the edge. she’d memorized these trails. And when she finally reached the top. she stopped to catch her breath and look out over the little valley that had become her home. She set a deliberately hard pace to start. Sure. To the west. “Can’t always get what you want. Most normal people weren’t kidnapped by a psycho who stole your blood or woke up after being in a magically induced coma with magical powers. No wonder some of the women went out of their way to avoid her.

right? You know I want to scream at you and tell you to fuck off? So why the hell am I standing here next to you. “I thought I was doing okay. The warmth of it seeped through the layers of her clothing and into her quickly chilling skin. All the lucani were.” she blurted out. his snout bumping against the fist clenched at her side. She couldn’t hold the connection. she waited until she felt Dane’s hand on her shoulder. Where he should be. steady voice made her thigh muscles clench and her eyelids flutter closed. I can talk all I want and you can’t say a word.” 32 . “I know you can do it. you know. Since it was considered bad manners to watch. Instead of here. “Are you just going to watch from over there or are you going to grow a set and come stand with me?” Silence reigned for several seconds until she felt him brush against her leg. calling forth the magic of the earth to give him the power to shift back into his human form. waiting for you to tell me it’s all going to be okay?” The wolf huffed and shook his head. Cat had tried to explain how the magic had to distribute the weight of the human body into a wolf body by making the wolf heavier and larger than a natural wolf.” She could barely get the words out through the lump in her throat. With her hands on her hips. that oh-so-recognizable crawl of sensation along her skin that signaled the use of magic. He was a big animal. she drew in a deep breath. “You know I’m pissed off at you. “Of course.Stephanie Julian That’s where Dane lived. wasn’t I?” The wolf shook his head again. She knew better than to pet one of the lucani unless they invited you to. finally.” she said.” His deep. maybe things were starting to level out. “I thought. Dane was shifting. She wanted to but couldn’t get her fist to unclench. “Then conjure me clothes. larger and heavier than a natural gray wolf. Without the buffer of another person between them. his deep yip a very definite denial. Evie had never really cared about the mechanics. He looked up with his head cocked to the side. Too many conflicting emotions. But I was just kidding myself.” She looked down to find the wolf had sat next to her. that could be good for me. Unless they did exactly what Dane was doing. Then she felt that tingle. watching over her once again. “You’re go-going to fr-freeze out here. “Kind of convenient that it’s too cold for you to shift so we could talk. his gaze connected with hers. There were some things that could just be magic.

“And I know you’re not. And not from the cold. She opened her mouth so he could slide his tongue against hers. a compulsion. Shock held her immobile as he bent his head and crushed his lips against hers. And she wanted. Hard. Now she only wanted to feel. It felt like a fever in her blood. And she didn’t want him to see how weak she was right now. “He’ll be good for you. He wasn’t immune to her. She struggled against his grip but he wouldn’t release her so she could plaster herself against him like she wanted. Dane’s kiss was nothing like Ryan’s. “Fuck. “I kissed him. Evie. Even though he had to be able to sense it.” Right before he grabbed her by the upper arms and pulled her against him. And she knew he wouldn’t.” she blurted out. it seemed as if she’d waited forever for him to kiss her. She only knew he’d finally kissed her. God.” The elder streghe thought she couldn’t do anything right.” She felt him tense. 33 . “Ronia and Kotev think I’m worthless.” “More like he kissed you. hot. someone who—” “Isn’t you. She had no idea what to expect. His lips demanded a response and she gave him what he wanted. “Then you’re the only one. even as she started to shake. You need someone to talk to.Moonlight Temptation She wanted to sob but was afraid if she started.” she said.” The quiet assurance in his voice filled her with warmth. Then she distinctly heard him mutter. Now… Now she practically tasted the leashed emotion pouring out of him. every slide of his lips on hers made her want more. all coiled strength and frustration. “Why?” That one word held so many questions. Which was the only observation she made before her brain short-circuited and went blank. “I kissed Ryan. So he could inhale and devour her. She wanted him to hold her. And she wanted him more. forceful. She hadn’t allowed herself to imagine.” Had Dane watched? She shook her head. Every flick of his tongue against hers took her breath away. she wouldn’t stop. She barely even registered the fact he was naked and still was warm enough to heat her through her clothes. She’d thought he never would.

Questions. He just stood there. he began his transformation. And when he broke off the kiss as abruptly as he’d started it. she cried out. And her gaze traveled down the naked length of him. Dane’s wolf gave a full-body shake before he set off back down the trail. Evie. She nearly stumbled but his hands steadied her as she tried to make the world tilt back on its axis. reaching for him as he stepped away from her. The collection of houses spread over a five-hundred-acre tract in the woods of Rockland Township had better security than the White House. With a sigh. Always more questions. But he’d walked out of her home and left her with Ryan. broad shoulders to an ass so fine she wanted to sink her teeth into it. feeling some satisfaction from his dazed expression. And his thighs… She got lightheaded just staring at his muscled thighs. figure out what he was thinking.Stephanie Julian She sucked on his tongue. A lucani’s shift isn’t instantaneous. But he didn’t oblige. We’ll discuss this tomorrow. The lucani maintained guards at all times around the perimeter of the den. she took off after him. She wanted him to turn so she could ogle the rest of him. he stopped to glance back over his shoulder. As if he knew. naked. in the thirty-degree weather. tight from his strong. It becomes fuzzy. His dark eyes appeared black in the light of the moon and his expression was shadowed. Or. He wouldn’t leave her alone here. And more deadly. seemingly unaffected. It takes several seconds but the human eye can’t comprehend it. ***** “So. not bothering to lock it.” “Dane…” Before she had a chance to finish. pet it. It’s cold. leaving her blinking at the spot where he’d been. And it was. at the very least. how are we going to play this one?” Dane closed the front door to his home behind him. When she didn’t move. 34 . he ran a hand through his short. She stared up at Dane. bit at his lips. lean. Long. She wanted to examine his expression. The man was absolutely gorgeous. “You need to go back now. Almost as if reality blurred. dark hair and turned away from her.

“I kissed her but you know that already.” Ryan lifted his mug and took a sip of what Dane figured was strong black coffee. you do. “Yeah. Christ. he’d never learned the contingency plan.” Dane tried to keep the frustration out of his voice. Dane regretted getting Ryan that free pass. Not now.” Ryan’s eyes narrowed and Dane’s back automatically tried to straighten. An actual footrace. where the community building sat… Well. Ryan sprawled on Dane’s black leather couch in the living area at the front of the house. lanes shot off to different houses and complexes throughout the site. I know 35 . though once you got in. I’ve never know you to be a coward. “I know that but that doesn’t answer my question. a little heat crept into Ryan’s voice. There were only a few outsiders who had leave from the lucani king to come and go without escort. Dane.” Ryan nodded. And failed miserably. but you’re acting like you’ve got your tail tucked between your legs right now. “For a doctor. And since Dane had been excused from the mandatory stint in the lucani army because he’d been in med school.” Dane sank into the chair across from the couch and forced himself to relax. no matter what he ingested. Ryan had muted the TV and switched his focus to Dane. Not a car race. “So how are we going to play this?” “I don’t want to play this.” “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. I saw how you looked at her. The guy had an iron stomach and never had a problem sleeping. “You forget I’ve got fangs and claws occasionally. If you weren’t Etruscan and you somehow managed to find your way into the heart of the den. Ry—” “No. At this moment. You don’t get to dismiss this. his gaze steady but the hint of a smile played around his lips. “Yeah. you’re pretty damn bloodthirsty. “This isn’t a game. watching a race on TV. resting his elbows on his knees.Moonlight Temptation Only one road led in and out of the property. I know why you brought me here. I knew.” “Fuck you.” Ryan’s tone never varied from calm.” Ryan just shook his head as he leaned forward. I did too. Dane. no one had ever gotten there so they hadn’t had to worry about it. “No fucking way. “Why the hell would you want to watch people sprint around a track for thirty seconds?” Dane bypassed the living area and headed straight for the kitchen at the rear of the house “Isn’t there a hockey game on?” When he returned to the living area with a can of high-test Coke.” “I never forget that.” Finally.

“I’m not some freak-show mad scientist who’s going to carve her up in the name of science.” “But I know you. I know you. If he could. And Ryan knew it too. And I’m not going to let you stomp all over her because like it or not. you’d realize that this girl is something special. his gaze steady. I do know that. I know you’re just dying to figure out what’s going on with her and Grace Bell’s kid. Are you going to let him die when you know there’s something you can do to help him?” “Fuck you.” Anger began to build. Still… Evie had been abducted by Grace Bell and subjected to tests without her consent.” 36 . It allows you to pull away whenever you want. I’m gonna make damn sure she feels the same for me.” Ryan sank back into the couch. Ryan. who wouldn’t? “Yeah.” “No. You want her. that’s bull—” “No. “But if we fuck this up. I’m not going to bleed the girl. You call me in and it gives you the freedom to call whatever happens with Evie a fling. she has feelings for you. Dane.” “Then why haven’t you talked to her about your ideas? What the fuck are you waiting for? Alex Bell isn’t getting any better. not to mention the fact the magical powers she hadn’t known anything about had been triggered by those tests. You think if we share her. he’d been hesitant to approach Evie about using her blood to help Alex. I even get it. I’m right. Vaffanculo. Are you sure that’s what you want?” Dane looked Ryan in the eyes. if I decide to throw myself behind your plan.” Ryan stopped to draw in a breath and Dane would have refuted everything he’d said. even though Ryan hit closer to some home truths with every jab. But I’m telling you now. “What I don’t know is what the hell you want. I’ve met your mom. You’re fucking dying for her but you can’t get past the fact that she’s not lucani. She still had nightmares. He knew he couldn’t. I get it. And if you didn’t have that stick shoved so far up your fucking ass. Kind of. it’s not.” Ryan continued. knowing I’ll be there to pick up the pieces. I like her.” It went against everything he believed as a doctor to let a little boy suffer. I’m in. I can’t believe you haven’t been using her already. “Yes. Ryan.Stephanie Julian exactly why I’m here. I’ve seen you do this before. And not just for her blood. “she gets hurt. If you really want me to help you seduce Evie because you can’t loosen your tight ass enough to do it on your own. “And if I decide to do this.” “Tinia’s teat. Yes. that’s not the same as having her yourself. You know I won’t do that.

waiting for the fallout. really nice to see you” kiss. it’s the best time of the day. a tree limb to fall on his car. Nothing happened. She eyed him cautiously. although that hadn’t happened for at least a month. as if he’d been doing it for years.Moonlight Temptation Chapter Three Evie was dressed and ready to run again by seven-fifteen. she figured she looked pretty damn bad. aren’t you?” His smile widened as he walked closer. waiting for her response. “Ah. It came naturally. So when Ryan pulled up in his yuppie SUV. And that was bad. She’d only gotten about four hours of sleep and that had been spotty. It was a “Good morning. babe.” Without warning.” 37 . She was so used to not being touched. you okay?” Ryan cocked his head to the side. “I’m fine. Bad meant inanimate objects could become flying objects at any moment. doll. ” Wow. And she hated being thought of as a coward. sunshine. The sun was barely over the horizon and it had to be even colder than last night. As if he had the right. “Good morning. he bent to kiss her. Sleep well? Great time for a run. With her hair pulled away from her face with an elastic band. the porch light to blow. Most of the assholes are still asleep. To being carefully avoided so she wasn’t upset.” He waved a hand with a flourish. She stilled. She’d been tempted to call Ryan and tell him not to bother but that was the coward’s way out. It wasn’t a sexual. “You’re one of those people who like getting up at the crack of dawn. stick-his-tongue-down-her-throat kiss. And she couldn’t have been more shocked if he had stuck his tongue down her throat. Upset meant she lost control. “Hey. For something to happen. You ready?” “Absolutely. “Lead on. that smile. she stepped out onto the porch. dressed in a long-sleeved shirt that fit like a second skin and running shorts. It might almost be too much this early in the morning. This time she didn’t have to force a smile.

I met the lucani king. With the addiction.” Evie smiled at the memory. the sun shone bright and her brother’s car sat in front of her house. It came in handy. right?” “Yeah. All those birds singing in the morning and the crickets at night. Not that I thought I could cure myself but I had more of an understanding of what I was feeling. At least until the drug addiction made it impossible but after rehab. though she’d never say that to John. an easy silence that surprised her. “Hard to take all that happiness sometimes. 38 .” Ryan said once they’d gone about a mile down the lane. John.” She heard Ryan give an amused exhale. the silence got to me. So damn quiet and she can kill you with one hand tied behind her back. it helped. huh?” She slid Ryan a brief glance and nearly stumbled when she got caught in those toopretty blue eyes. Talk about surreal. Strong woman. Everyone seems to like him.” And occasionally depressing.” “I haven’t met your brother yet. “I liked him. “And you gotta love having no traffic. Creepy. it’s like running an obstacle course.” Though not as large as Philadelphia. He stops almost every day unless he and Kaine are out on assignment. And Dane’s parents. She’d been a runner in high school. But when she realized Ryan wasn’t struggling to keep up. A great big magical chill pill. My brother does and he’s a good judge of character.” “I was born and raised in Reading. the running had helped keep her head clear. “My first visit to Dane’s place.” And there was that perfect smile again. the deep. They make the perfect couple. Always had an interest. it had the same pros and cons as every large city. He and his girl—mate. “When I moved out here. rich sound raising goose bumps definitely not due to the cold. “I gotta say Kaine always scared me a little. They’ve been on assignment the past week so I’ve had a reprieve. “I thought you were a vet. It’s nice to see.” They ran for a while without speaking. Still don’t know exactly what a king does. Which would explain why he and Dane were friends. his mate will probably be over this morning. For the rest of the forty-five-minute run. “Minored in psych. she increased their speed. Dane needed to chill even more than she did at times. “It’s beautiful out here.” “Yeah. not wanting to wear him out in the first mile. They both smile more around each other.” Ryan laughed. but she’s different with John. Maybe he was magical after all.” “I met Cole once.Stephanie Julian She started out at a slow pace. Plus. not a psychiatrist. but I guess he does it well. they talked about nothing important and by the time they got back to Evie’s borrowed home. In Philly. She’d expected to be nervous around Ryan but the guy just didn’t do nerves.

” She muttered the words under her breath but she knew Ryan had heard when he laughed behind her. Which Ryan cut off by walking up to John with his hand extended. was the lead sicari. Which made John. didn’t just call it a jail.” “We met last night. drew in a deep breath and prepared to face her brother’s onslaught of questions. narrow his eyes and give Ryan the once-over. eliciting another shocked look. “I hope you didn’t drink all the coffee. “Still achy but not as bad as it was before. Kyle Rossini. She hadn’t been much for public displays of affection lately and John knew that. Tam had become invaluable to Dane in the past few months as the only trained nurse living with the lucani.” ***** “How are you feeling today. I have a feeling I’m going to need a gallon. She stepped up onto the porch and kissed her brother’s cheek. 39 . Evie thought he might ignore Ryan’s hand. for a brief second. considering that’s exactly what it was. when it rained. “John Simmons. right? Kaine mentioned that you were visiting. bro. She stiffened. standing deceivingly at ease on the porch.” Now John’s expression showed almost comical shock and Evie sighed though she really wanted to laugh. But even though he’d become overly protective of her recently. It was going to be a long morning.” John’s eyebrows made a slow slide upward and. Alex? Any changes since we talked Monday?” The little boy in the wheelchair managed a smile for Dane but only barely. She loved her brother more than anyone else in the world. Momma says that’s normal though. “You’re Dane’s friend. His blue eyes held a dull sheen but his hair shone like vibrant copper under the bright lights in his room at the holding facility. Every internal wall that hadn’t snapped into place yet this morning flew up with an almost physical jolt. But his timing sucked today. To feel achy when it rains. Dane wondered why the sicarii. “Hey. I didn’t know you knew Evie.” His eyes narrowed.Moonlight Temptation “Speak of the devil. Her mate. the lucani king’s assassins.” The boy looked over his shoulder at the closed door then at Tamra Rossini. John didn’t have an arrogant bone in his body. I’m Ryan Maguire. Nice to meet you. you must be John. A jail holding one little boy and his mother. Dane and I were over for dinner.

And he needed a hell of a lot of care. Dane didn’t think so. Between Grace and Tam. Dane could see her point. her mouth compressed into a flat line. knowing the boy wanted to tell him something but was afraid his mother would overhear from the next room. The sicarii had simply locked her in another room where Alex couldn’t hear her screams. Don’t worry. Out of sight of Alex. Dr.” Then he put his hands on Alex’s shoulders and waited until the boy looked up at him to do something Dane never did. Alex?” Today. Vaffanculo. According to Grace. Dr. Relatively being the operative word.” 40 . “Okay. The boy nodded and his voice dropped to a whisper. Alex. Of course. Dane nodded. A ten-year-old boy who only looked about seven shouldn’t have to deal with nightmares that were real. “Is there something else.” “Does it hurt?” Alex shook his head. “I understand. Grace Bell had fought bitterly against allowing her son to meet privately with Dane at first and honestly. She’d grown close to Alex these past few months as much of his day-to-day medical care fell to her. the boy had never been healthy. She’d learned how to play the game. though his chest felt as if someone were compressing his lungs. His nightmares starred wolves who hunted him through a dark forest. And I’m really tired. How bad is it? Are you getting any sleep at all?” From the looks of him. No worries.Stephanie Julian When he finally turned back to Dane. Dane did the same. they managed to keep him relatively comfortable. She’d been raised to believe the lucani were ravening monsters. Dane. “A little but… I don’t feel as good I did last summer. And something even worse in the shadows… Something he couldn’t see but knew was stalking him. “We’re going to make you better. The boy shrugged and dropped his gaze. I just feel like I’m gonna throw up all the time. Alex. but I’m afraid…” The kid was afraid to go to sleep. he leaned forward. “No. “All right. her demands hadn’t counted for anything.” When Grace had been taking Evie’s blood and making serums to keep her son healthy.” The boy’s smile split his face. I promise. Dane. No more screaming. “I didn’t want to tell my mom but my stomach doesn’t feel too good either. I understand. Grace was on the other side of the door. Tam shook her head.

I’m heading back to the labs. same as her mother. including Cat. Nic and Duke. “I’ll see you tomorrow. He didn’t speak to anyone as he made his way out of the “holding facility”.Moonlight Temptation As he stood. with Alex’s situation. which wasn’t much of a gift. Didn’t want to argue with her again. Su. Cat watched Evie practice a simple incendiary spell. Because she was right. He didn’t want to talk to her today. In the background. Tam. he was ready to get to work. Cat had an affinity for plants and healing. how was dinner?” Cat sat on what Evie was beginning to think of as the girl’s perch. All of the streghe in the boschetta.” 41 . which was no surprise. Cat had decided ’70s pop would help Evie get in the spell-working mood. Dane knew one thing that would make Alex feel better. Ralisa manipulated metals. He never made promises he couldn’t keep and. he caught Tam’s gaze over the boy’s head. It’d nearly driven Su crazy and had almost cost Tira the lives of her lovers. She looked shocked. The young lucani female who served as Alex’s guard nodded his way but didn’t say anything and he left without running into either Duke or Nic. They called them Goddess gifts. there were no guarantees. had specific areas of expertise in the magical arts. She’d yet to make the wick of this damn candle do anything other than sputter and die. Nica healed with her hands. He’d been avoiding the obvious solution until he couldn’t ethically do so any longer. Evie had yet to figure out what exactly she specialized in but she figured it wasn’t fire. So far. On the kitchen counter. The walk back to his office took a few minutes and the bite of the cool air helped clear his head so. And it was time he acted like a doctor and did what needed to be done. if you asked Evie.” He knocked on the door leading to the front of the building. a mug of hot chocolate in her hand. the sicarii in charge of the facility. avoiding a confrontation with Grace. saw the future. “Dinner was…interesting. Tira and her mother. ***** “So. ABBA sang about some guy named Fernando. not so much. by the time he walked through the door of his lab.

Stephanie Julian

“That sounds cryptic. Wait— Hold up a sec. You’re not holding the spell long enough for it to catch.” “No, I just can’t seem to make it strong enough.” She sighed and shook out her hand, which tingled from being held outstretched for so long. “And I’m not being cryptic. It was interesting.” “Try closing your eyes when you say the spell. Sometimes that helps me to focus the energy. Try and hold that energy in before you release it to spark the wick. Interesting how?” With a sigh, Evie shook her head. How much did she tell a seventeen year old about her love life? Which wasn’t really much of a love life? She’s kissed a guy. Okay, she’d kissed two guys… And that wouldn’t shock a girl whose parents had been in a ménage when she’d been conceived. Cat groaned. “You’ve got that look on your face again.” Evie blinked and consciously cleared her expression. But she knew it was too late. “What look?” “That ‘How much can Cat handle look?’” The girl huffed and narrowed her gaze at Evie. “You do know I’m seventeen years old and I wasn’t raised in a nunnery, right?” “I know, Cat. I’m sorry, it’s just this thing with Dane and Ryan has me all…” She shook her hands in front of her. “I don’t know.” “Well, I know you’ve always had a thing for Dane. And now you’re attracted to Ryan and that confuses you. I get it. But you know it doesn’t have to be an either-or deal, right? It’s not like Ryan and Dane haven’t shared the same girl before.” Evie’s mouth dropped open but she couldn’t produce a word. Her brain ground to a halt. Cat’s eyes widened. “Oh. You didn’t know. Oh, shit, my bad.” Evie barely heard Cat’s wincing apology as she considered all the implications of Cat’s revelation. Evie was far from innocent though she’d never been involved in a ménage. Had never met two men she’d been attracted to at the same time. And now that she had… Could she really have both of them? Was that what they wanted? Blinking, she finally looked back at Cat, who smiled at her tentatively. “Evie? Are you okay?” ABBA crooned about taking chances, which Evie thought was eerily right on target. “I’m fine.”

42

Moonlight Temptation

Cat took a deep breath, which Evie heard even over the music. “Do you think you want to try the spell again?” The spell? What— Oh, that spell. “Sure.” The spell flashed through her mind and her lips moved silently as she recited it. But her mind wasn’t anywhere near to being concentrated on the spell. Those kisses from last night ran through her mind. Ryan hadn’t kissed her again after that first, chaste peck this morning, probably because John kept staring at him, ready to take him down if Ryan accidentally brushed against her. Damn, what would her brother think— “Whoa, Evie.” Cat’s hushed voice held a note of excitement that snapped Evie’s attention back to her. “Holy crap.” Evie looked first at Cat’s awestruck face then at the candle flaming between them. “Hey! I got it.” The glow of satisfaction warmed her. Finally that damn spell had worked. What had she done differently? She looked back at Cat to ask that question and felt some of her excitement slip at Cat’s awed expression. “Cat, what’s wrong?” The girl just shook her head. “Um, nothing’s wrong. Exactly.” Then she pointed tentatively over Evie’s shoulder in the direction of the living room. Frowning, Evie spun on her heel… And drew in a short, sharp breath. Every single candle in the room was lit. She hadn’t realized how many there were. Short ones on the coffee table, tall ones on the fireplace mantel, votives on the bookshelves. “Oh shit.” She turned back to Cat. “Did I do that?” “Yeah, you did.” “Oh shit.” “Yeah.” Cat’s tone held a whole lot of awe. “I’d say that’s about right.”

*****
“Hello, Evie. Can we come in?” Dane and Ryan stood on her front porch. Neither man looked happy. Dane looked tall and stern, his dark eyes cool. Not cold, just unreadable. At least Ryan looked sympathetic and that worried the shit out of her.

43

Stephanie Julian

Even so, her heart gave a little jump in her chest. A smile curved her lips, completely unforced, but when they just stood there, waiting for her to invite them in, it died a quick death. “Is something wrong?” After a second’s hesitation, Dane shook his head. “Nothing’s wrong. I just need to talk to you.” Ooh-kay. That sounded ominous. And why had he brought Ryan? Waving the men into the house, she closed the solid oak door behind them then leaned back against wood. The scent of snuffed candles still lingered in the air and she watched Dane’s nose twitch as his eyes narrowed. It’d taken her and Cat a few minutes to blow out every candle in the house. Her spell had worked really, really well. She hadn’t even realized there were candles on top of the armoire in the bedroom until today. When neither of them said anything, she rushed to fill the silence. “Spell practice with Cat. We, uh, got a little carried away.” Dane nodded, watching her with an intensity that was starting to make her really nervous. “How’s that going? Are you making progress?” She snorted and pushed away from the door, heading for the kitchen. “Sure, I’m making progress, if you call lighting every candle in the house without meaning to progress. Would you guys like something to drink?” “Sure, Evie, thanks,” Ryan said. Dane just nodded. The old “Coffee, tea or me” phrase ran through her head and she had to bite her tongue before it escaped. Cat’s revelation earlier today had really knocked her off-kilter. “Coffee? Or soda?” She knew Dane mainlined Coca Cola. And it just so happened, she always stocked Coke in her fridge. And no, that was not a coincidence. Maybe she really did need a psychiatrist. “Soda, for both of us.” Dane paused then sighed. “Look, Evie, we need to talk and I’m not quite sure how to begin.” Pouring the Cokes into glasses, she suppressed a shiver as a chill skated up her spine. “Is John okay? Did something happen? I just saw him—” “No, John’s fine.” Dane shook his head. “This doesn’t have anything to do with John. This has to do with you.” She set the can down with a metallic clink. Her hands wanted to shake but she refused to let them as she passed a glass to Dane over the counter then poured one for Ryan and finally herself.

44

Yeah. Surprisingly. whether as a defense mechanism shutting out thoughts of a dying little boy or as a lust-fueled response to what she wanted from these two men. If they both touched her at the same time. Her imagination took off. Just another day in the life of Evangeline Simmons. “Maybe this should wait. aware that the blackness around the edges of her vision was not a good thing. she stared into Dane’s eyes. the muscles of his thighs bunching beneath hers and she realized Ryan had sat on the couch next to Dane. she shook her head. To her. held her against his hard chest and carried her to the couch. Slow and deep. I’m fine. Shock held her immobile as he sat with her on his lap. Dane. “Just say it. drawing in each breath laced with his masculine scent. stroking through her hair.” Looking up.” Ryan moved closer to the counter. I’m tired of trying to decipher everyone’s cryptic comments today. Dane shifted.” Everything inside her froze. Wanted to feel Ryan’s hands on her back. Images of both men kissing her raced through her mind. “Breathe. “No.Moonlight Temptation “Then just spit it out. she wasn’t sure. Two sets of hands reached for her shoulders. it was Dane who caught her when she took a step back and felt her knees buckle under her. she burned.” The cadence of his voice worked as a calming influence and she did as he said. That more than anything brought her back to her senses. both helping to steady her. In through your nose and out through your mouth.” Ryan’s soft words took a few seconds to penetrate the fog in her brain but when they did. “What’s up. “Is he okay? Did… Did something happen?” She blinked. He lifted her in strong arms. she might literally set the house on fire. Her stomach seized into a cold little ball while she fought with her lungs to breathe. Evie. combined with the information Cat had spilled this morning and made her blood begin a slow burn. She only knew that when either of them touched her.” 45 . And awoke the heated desire she felt only with these two men. Vaguely she realized both men had hustled around the corner of the island. “Is everything okay?” Of course not. She wanted to put her arms around Dane’s waist and cling. Dane?” “We need to talk about Alex Bell. The magic she’d been hoping was fading away had only been waiting to make itself known again in grand fashion and she had the hots for two men.

because I wanted his opinion. I’m so sick of this. 46 . And right now. I didn’t realize you thought so little of me. in the quick. You know. His eyes mesmerized her. “Why didn’t you come to me sooner?” Dane just looked at her. Then she was falling and she didn’t mean figuratively. And she could no longer escape the fact there was a ten-year-old boy dying of an unknown disease and only she had the power to relieve him of the symptoms and to at least slow the progression. Not anyone else’s. “I’m sorry I jumped down your throat. This is my life we’re talking about. His mouth remained closed but she wasn’t looking to deepen the kiss. she sighed. When she opened her eyes.” “Evie. she could use it. “Evie—” “No. indrawn breath. Only Ryan. They had from the first moment she’d met him. felt normal. She hadn’t known that was possible. but she stopped them with one finger held up in front of her. I don’t think the boy will get any better. “Oh. for some odd reason. Dane.” Without her blood. Both men made a move to rise as well. It’s been kind of a trying day. she’d hurt Dane’s feelings. so intelligent. “Oh. The treatment I had him on is no longer working. Great. “Alex’s condition is deteriorating.” Oh. She knew exactly what he was thinking. No way. put her hands on his shoulders and kissed Dane. She decided she liked their touch. It grounded her. she found Dane staring into hers. she leaned forward. Closing her eyes and shaking her head. how everyone treats me like I’m about to break. She didn’t draw it out and retreated after only a few seconds. She wanted to roll her eyes but controlled the urge.” With a shove against the cushions. The only person who doesn’t is Cat. Now growing even darker with desire. She could taste it in the stillness of his lips.Stephanie Julian He nodded and shifted her to the couch between him and Ryan. Not a bad place to be but now neither man was touching her. Dane didn’t have to say the words. that’s right. She’d shocked him.” Then before she could think twice about what she was doing. I didn’t talk to anyone else. She’d only wanted to reclaim a little bit of normalcy in her life and kissing Dane. Poor little Evie couldn’t handle it. Holy shit. How many people have you discussed this with before you came here to talk to me? Did you talk to John? Kaine? Tam?” Dane’s jaw looked tense enough to shatter and his voice sounded strangled as he said. don’t even think about it. So dark. Evie scrambled off the couch.

she was surprised again by his height. Every time he stood so close.” Shit.” “I don’t think this is the time to do this.” “Okay. As she sat blinking up at him. now she heard a wobble in her voice and that was definitely not acceptable. Now we’re even.” Dane stood. She knew she’d have to. not a bad view. sometimes she’d found people were too easy to read. Just enough to tease. hands on her hips. She had to tilt her head back to look him in the eyes or she stared at the broad expanse of his shoulders. “I want to meet him. “Might as well get all the big stuff out of the way at the same time. her eyes widened as she remembered what Cat had said about these men. “If that’s what you want. Again. She didn’t know why. So she decided to ignore Ryan because she needed answers to other. “I think it’s the perfect time. rising several inches above her. Somehow he maneuvered her until she sat in his lap and when he kissed her. “That can be arranged. I felt left out for a moment. Startled. She only knew she liked it. And she didn’t really want to know what they were thinking. Eventually. she stood in front of Dane.” Dane’s expression had tightened again. Right. at hiding his feelings so she had no idea what he was thinking. That she wouldn’t be the first woman they’d shared.” “That’s what I want. He was so good at that.” “Without his mother. more important questions. Hopping off the couch again. I want to talk to him. the woman who’d kidnapped her and turned her life into this freak show. “There. make sure he knows we’re coming.” Ryan never took his eyes from hers. doll?” Evie didn’t know what to say but she was thinking maybe Dane had the right idea this time. He pulled away then moved her to sit on the cushion between him and Dane. his expression showing nothing of his feelings.” Dane nodded. Then again.” She’d yet to confront Grace Bell. Alex. Ryan’s smile curved and she swore she saw the devil in it.Moonlight Temptation Ryan had tugged on her arm and brought her down into his lap.” “Can we do it now?” Dane nodded again. Ryan. 47 . “Not a problem. there was just the slightest bit of tongue. “I’ll check in with Kyle.

“And later. “I haven’t been able to trust anyone enough to let them get that close. his breath making her shiver slightly. “And I’ve never considered going to bed with two men. Dane couldn’t hide the heat in his eyes. Had she really said that? Her heart stopped before kicking over and beginning to pound full speed ahead. I promise.” Oh my god. she’d had sex. though she didn’t think he’d ever say it.Stephanie Julian Behind her. Her thighs clenched and she felt her sex go wet.” Hell. Even though he wasn’t touching her. She actually thought it made him want her even more. she heard Ryan moving then his arms circled around her from behind. She’d completely lost her mind. pulling her close against his body. “Dane and I will take your mind off all of this for a little while. Until Dane. The man actually looked slack-jawed. “If it comes to a fight. which was a pretty damn sorry state of affairs. Warmth seeped into her. Oh. Not since I got out of rehab. she felt Ryan still. And the fact Ryan had his arms around her brought out no jealousy at all. That had never happened before.” 48 . “You’ll be fine. she couldn’t stop herself from continuing. Ryan had absolutely no problem saying what he wanted. doll. “I haven’t had sex in three years.” She laughed. Some not. Ryan’s body heat combined with the look in Dane’s eyes made her stomach clench. Just from the sound of Ryan’s voice and the look in Dane’s eyes. And then. as she knew he’d meant for her to do. That was the only explanation she had for blurting out that information. the desire for her. None of it had ever felt right and she couldn’t remember the last time a man had made her orgasm. Behind her. she hadn’t come close to wanting anyone that much.” he said. As if she’d pulled a gun and shot him through the heart.” Her lips snapped shut as if she could stop the words she’d already spoken. As a teen. Some of it while stoned. I think you can take a ten year old. as if she’d opened the floodgates.” Ryan said into her ear. She could only imagine his expression mirrored Dane’s. she knew he wanted her. Holy shit.

possibly beyond repair. How did he want her to answer that? She hated that she had so much trouble reading Dane. two of the youngest full members of the boschetta. which had blown Evie’s mind the first time she’d been introduced to Tanner and Jensen. She was dangerous. not until she’d met Nica and Tira. Sex with these two men? Who in their right mind would say no to that? What she couldn’t understand was why they wanted her. Evie had assumed. Whose shock appeared to be wearing off because the heat in his eyes flared again. Dane’s mouth quirked into a faint smile and he actually took a step closer. “That’s a question only you can answer. yes. What she couldn’t figure out was why. God. 49 . that the men also had sex with each other. For her. Until she’d seen the three of them together. “Are you considering it now?” Dane asked. who might just be the most normal man she’d ever met. Both of them lived with two men. Nica had fallen for twin brothers. “Should I be?” After a second. And I want you to be positive of your answer before you give it. The question is do you want to?” She could answer that question right now if she could get her vocal cords in gear. His eyes had narrowed. had a hard-on. his expression tense. Dane. She had to tilt her head back to maintain eye contact and her head bumped against Ryan’s chest as his arms tightened the slightest bit. wrongly. It confused the hell out of her.” “What if I can’t?” Dane’s gaze didn’t falter. She’d never imagined she’d be considering that kind of relationship. As she’d grown to know the women. damaged. These two men wanted her. And Ryan. Especially not with Dane. who never showed much emotion. stared at her with desire evident on his face.Moonlight Temptation At least. “You can. They didn’t but their relationship was intensified by their love for Tira. Tira had mated best friends. She felt the length and thickness of it pressing against her backside. Then it’d just seemed natural. Evie had grown to envy what she saw as an abundance of love. Yes. That had seemed so…weird. Evie. Nic and Duke. who worked with Evie’s brother.

Such as why the boy was being held in a jail. He’d be able to see and hear everything. but Ryan could see her discomfort in the stiff lines of her body. Yes. And Dane had told Ryan just enough to realize that Dane thought the boy might have something similar to a disease that ravaged some lucani. And this building was infused with it. And we can’t do anything about it now anyway. “Hello again. ***** Ryan watched Dane watch Evie as a little boy who looked deathly ill wheeled his chair into an examination room. Dane had told Ryan to wait here while he and Evie talked with Alex.” The boy smiled.” Evie smiled at the boy. but I wanted you to meet a friend of mine. Dane had been studying the disease for years. Alex. Ryan didn’t know if he was more surprised by that or by the open affection on Dane’s face for the boy. Similar in ways to Lou Gehrig’s disease.Stephanie Julian Dane’s eyes narrowed as if he’d read her mind. “I know. It’s nice to meet you. We need to go. The dying little boy who she might actually be able to help. I just saw you this morning. this is Evie Simmons. “You don’t need to answer that now. Ryan actually swore he could feel invisible walls surround him when he’d walked into the observation room. meet Alex Bell. the building might look like a cottage from the outside. Dr. Which explained a hell of lot about Dane. She’d almost forgotten about the little boy who needed her. Ryan had no human medical training but the tenets of diagnoses were the same. genuinely happy to see Dane. Ryan hadn’t met Alex Bell yet. Though he’d discussed the boy’s health issues with Dane. Ryan had always thought. Evie.” Alex. The man had the softest touch and raised the most heated response. He lifted his hand to brush his fingers across her cheek. Dane. Flames licked along her nerve endings. Since before his father had died of it. “Hello.” “Hey. but Ryan had been around Dane long enough to know the feel of magic. Alex. Alex. he knew there was a lot more to the situation than Dane had told him.” 50 . Unspoken but clear to Ryan had been Dane’s request that he observe. His easy caress amazed her. the lucani wasting disease had no cure and no one had ever been able to discover who would be affected or how it worked.

Moonlight Temptation The boy’s smile dimmed just a little as he picked up on Evie’s nerves. but that’s okay. Ryan ragged on Dane constantly about his penchant for manipulating events to his own satisfaction. Do you think you’d be willing to help me. I’m not sick. “Are you sick too? Is Dr. sharp motion. he looked even younger than his ten years. Dane and Tam bring me all sorts of books. “Dr. Evie took a deep breath then sat at the table across from Alex.” Evie laid her arms on the table. “I haven’t seen her for a while. Christ. Dane’s very good at what he does.” Since Alex and Grace had been confined here at the den. She said I need a new book anyway so…” “You don’t have a teacher here?” Evie asked as she shot a look at Dane. Evie’s determined. “They’re the best. Maybe Evie hadn’t been ready for this meeting after all. “I went to school to be a teacher. “Miss Terri taught me math too and science. dropping his gaze so he couldn’t see Dane. Dane covered his faster. 51 . “No.” “You know. then he knew Dane had probably orchestrated this. At that moment. “Do you like the Hardy Boys? I used to read them too. Mom’s good at math and English too. Ryan realized he was grinning about the same time he noticed the exact same look on Dane’s face. My mom’s good at science but she doesn’t teach me much about that now. “It’s okay. the guy surprised him sometimes. Mostly. Dane’s been trying to help me get better.” The little boy shrugged his thin shoulders.” he said tentatively.” The boy’s face lit up again and Evie’s posture softened enough to allow her smile to become more natural. The guy was scary smart like that. Dane?” Alex and Evie both turned to Dane at the same time. Evie barely flinched at the mention of Grace Bell. The boy shook his head. Dane your doctor?” Evie shook her head.” Evie pointed at Alex’s chair. Dr. Alex? Would you be willing to let me practice my teaching skills on you?” Damn. As if she expected Dane to say no.” Ryan saw surprise cross Dane’s face before he controlled it. Alex’s eyes widened. As if he was afraid Dane would be angry with him. I liked them even better than Nancy Drew. “No. “I’m sorry to hear you are.” With a visible effort. Amazingly. I never finished but I plan to go back some time and get my degree. Dr. My mom says if anyone can. But damn. her smile softening even more. he can do it. the girl had a heart a mile wide. “Hi. Alex’s expression hopeful. “Could we really do that? I mean. what a mess for this poor little boy to be stuck in. I used to read a lot more with my teacher but…” Alex’s gaze slid away. would it be okay. a short. But if Ryan knew Dane at all.

“You honestly think you’ll be able to duplicate Grace’s serum?” Kyle’s question forced Dane to get his head back in the conversation. Dane finally nodded. yet. Alex.” Kyle’s eyes narrowed on Evie’s again.Stephanie Julian As if thinking about it. “but before I was kidnapped. his surprise evident as Evie stood in Kyle’s living room to plead her case. Not much threw the lucani king’s lead assassin. Warmth spread through Dane’s blood. I worked at a preschool. As if he had a right to be proud of her. Thank you. if it’s okay with you. You’re doing me a big favor. Miss Evie?” Evie reached out to lay her hand over Alex’s. I don’t have my degree. Evie took a deep breath and repeated her last statement. As if she was his. “That would be awesome. If you’re sure that’s what you want.” Kyle’s brows lifted above topaz eyes.” and in that statement. And don’t you think she is? Dane felt his heart skip a beat at that. The boy needs to continue his schooling. Tam. “I’d like to become Alex’s tutor.” Alex nodded so hard. looking for her response. “Absolutely. I believe I can handle all of Alex’s subjects if we have the right books. pledge herself to him and the lucani at their mating ceremony. the guy was solid as a hundred-year-old oak. After high school— After I got out of rehab. He realized he was proud of her. She didn’t flinch. “I mean. “I think we can arrange that. “And you’d be okay with this?” Evie actually smiled for a few brief seconds. Alex. “And the boy’s physically fit for this?” Dane nodded.” Kyle turned to Dane. He’s actually looking forward to it. I attended Kutztown University with the intent of getting my degree in elementary education. I’ve already started processing Evie’s blood. almost as if he was afraid she’d changed her mind. “He will be once we start the treatments. Can we start tomorrow?” He looked back to Evie. he’d been watching his mate. 52 . Ryan worried the kid might hurt himself.” ***** “You want to what?” Kyle Rossini looked between Evie and Dane with utter confusion. Dane heard the promise she’d made to herself. “I wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t want to. The last time Dane had seen the guy poleaxed. her smile brilliant. not the heat of passion but something softer. Otherwise.

” Now her smile widened and Dane felt his cock harden and throb. don’t you?” Tam nodded. Thanks for offering your time.” Kyle leaned back into the wooden dining room chair then looked at his mate who’d been sitting quietly by his side. a lucani the pack put through college. Gods damn. Whatever else the woman is. “Whenever it’s convenient for everyone else.” Kyle sighed. “You’ll need supplies. as if because she wanted it. Ryan it is. His mom told me he’s reading on a fifth-grade level and she’s afraid she won’t be able to keep up with him. but she got too old to teach a few years ago and there were so few kids living here. The boy’s been here six months. Miki. We don’t send our kids to public schools for obvious reasons. it’d be taken away. Alex couldn’t— No. would love the break every now and then. “We used to employ a full-time teacher for the den. if it’s okay with Evie. I know Michael’s mom. He needs to have some kind of schooling. She’s given me all her notes. Evie. Dane would go to Cole himself. she loves her son. He’d been the proverbial lone wolf. She wanted this but she tried to hide it. She’d sucked in her lower lip and had her teeth lodged there now. I don’t exactly have a regular job. “I need him to pick up a few things for me too. “And. There was absolutely no harm in allowing her to teach the children. Dane’s back stiffened as he saw the slight smile Kyle didn’t bother to hide. “Absolutely. I’ll get your brother to—” “Ryan can take her for whatever she needs. Alex wouldn’t hurt anyone. shaking his head.” Tam smiled at Evie. “I can’t wait to get started. “You think this is a good thing.” Dane said. Dane would stake his medical degree on that.” 53 . I’ll have the old school room in the common building set aside for you. Now the love Dane saw in Kyle’s eyes every time he looked at his younger mate was evident.” Kyle nodded. we figured homeschooling would be fine. He also needs to socialize with kids his own age. She’d never knowingly harm him. Dane had never known Kyle to ask for advice from anyone before Tam. And Jason is only seven but the boy is scary smart.” Dane had turned to watch Evie as Kyle spoke. he’d make sure Kyle agreed and if he didn’t. Kyle had to— “So when do you want to start?” Evie’s smile broke free for exactly two seconds before she reined it in. I’d like to suggest she be allowed to get Alex together with Michael and Jason for a few classes.” Kyle’s gaze slid from Dane to Evie for a brief second before he nodded again.Moonlight Temptation “I know I can. “I think it’s too long in coming.

Ryan didn’t mind being the errand boy. one hand curled under her pale cheek. they managed to find homes for most of them. though. She’d practiced on him and he’d loved it. A little lost. Beautiful. She’d been on her feet most of the day as they’d run around getting the supplies she wanted for teaching and the more “specialized” equipment Dane had wanted. Had he been waiting for her? What the hell was he doing here? 54 . Between him and the other vets in his practice. The more time he spent with her. And when Dane had called to ask him to come. Ryan had never had time for a pet. his attention slipping. that’s exactly what she was. He’d taken this semester off. She was…sweet. He didn’t mean to make her sound like a stray but. people dropped off their unwanted pets on the doorstep all the time. At his practice in Philadelphia. in a way. His fuse had been shorter.Stephanie Julian Chapter Four Ryan sipped a Coke. sprawled on a chair watching Evie sleep on the couch in Dane’s living room. And Ryan had a huge. Which had been more damn arousing than outright seduction. Especially since he’d gotten to spend the time with Evie. the more he fell under her spell. he’d told his partners he needed a couple of weeks. eyes tightly closed. Obviously. because he’d felt burnout creeping up on him. Softhearted. fucking soft spot for strays. And her tentative flirting. They’d agreed without a fight. not between his twelve-hour days at the practice and his teaching gig at Penn. cruel world. they thought he needed a break too. As if he’d been waiting for something to happen. She made a man want to put his body in front of hers and protect her from the cold. What had he been waiting for? Evie sighed and shifted on the couch.

though he wouldn’t admit it. As if he knew Evie was sleeping. “She’s tired. Is Evie okay?” And Dane had wanted to see Evie. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Ryan had to laugh at that. “Fuck off. And I see the way you look at her when you think no one’s watching. Wasn’t that how it always worked? Although to be fair. Dane. “I didn’t say that. later. Dane looked almost as worn out as Evie did as he walked over to the couch. or maybe it was hours. Ryan closed the door but left enough of a gap that they could hear her if she woke. Probably aspirin for a headache. watching Dane dry-swallow two pills. One hand rubbed at his temples while the other rooted around the desk drawer for something.” “I see the way she stares at you. no questions asked. I just don’t want her to get hurt.” Dane didn’t rise to the bait. so fucking sure he knew the right solution to every problem. And she’s not your possession to order around. he shut his eyes and let his head fall back against the chair. Friends did that for each other. And he and Dane had a friendship forged in blood. I’m pretty sure she’s not getting much sleep at night. Dane.” “How the hell can tutoring three children hurt her? You’re the one who’s going to hurt her. “I’ve gotta be back in the lab in an hour to see how the serum’s progressing but I needed some fresh air and something to eat. “She’s not a child. the closest room with a door.” Dane practically growled. Why can’t you just admit you want her?” 55 . And he probably did. I don’t know her as well as you do. Ryan transferred his gaze to Dane as he slipped silently into his own house. Dane had already slumped into the chair behind his desk when Ryan got there. Do you think she’s up for this?” “I wouldn’t let her do it if I didn’t think she was. “I never said she was. Dane’s blood. There was Dane the almighty again. Then he sat in the chair on the other side of the desk. Dane would be there. if only silently.” That got a response. Ryan. Ryan knew if he needed Dane for anything. “You don’t think she’s up for this?” Ryan shook his head. Evie still slept.Moonlight Temptation Dane snapped his fingers and Ryan came running. Dane. When the door opened minutes. stared down at her for several seconds. Instead.” Dane’s gaze narrowed on him. then looked at Ryan and jerked his head toward his study.

Vaffanculo. But if you don’t want to get involved with both of us.” Her expression held so much regret. Confused but determined. “Because I knew you’d connect with him. Ryan felt his own muscles tense.” Stress made Dane’s voice lower than normal. And when she smiled at him before turning back to Dane. if that’s not what you want. And smart too. Gods damn it. then say so now and I’ll walk out the door. Vaffanculo. Yes. I want you. And Evie. So does Ryan. Evie. Evie. “I knew he’d be good for you in a way I can’t be. Make no mistake.” “You could do that? Just leave like there’s nothing between us?” Dane’s lips twisted into a frown. his blood began to heat. “I know how much you hate losing control. She was getting to Dane. To wrap his arms around her. Hell. his gaze cutting behind Ryan to the door. Dane. encouraging her to go on. “I really thought you hated me. “Why did you bring another man here to sleep with me?” Brave Evie. Evie. Evie. why the fuck do you think I’m jumping through fucking hoops for her?” “Then why do you keep pushing me away?” Dane froze. She looked like a woman on a mission. I want you. I don’t think you need a babysitter. He nodded. But this is the only way this will work. Ryan could see his composure begin to slip. And Ryan could only hope that meant the ache in his gut and the stiffness of his cock were about to be relieved. pleading with him to understand. as if entering a minefield. Ryan turned. his frustration and his lust combining to bring down all those nice walls he used to keep everyone at a distance. Slowly.Stephanie Julian “Of course I want her. “Evie…” She walked into the room as she did every place she entered. “I don’t hate you. “No. mixed with a tentative longing. Ryan gave her what she wanted.” “Then why?” She turned to Ryan with an apologetic look. If Dane didn’t manage to fuck this up. put his mouth on hers and kiss her. I can’t be what you need. you don’t know me as well as you think you do. and his first instinct was to go to her.” “Then why do you act like I’m a leper? Like you can’t wait to be away from me? Why did you call your best friend to come babysit me?” “Ryan’s not here to babysit you. Nothing could be further from the truth. And maybe she felt this was. after I called your wolf that first time.” Dane practically spit out the words.” 56 .

hands on her hips. The one he’d confided to Ryan one night after a few too many beers and just as many shots. He’d surrendered. a concussion of sensation. Only. Ryan’s own desire spiked like a fever as he watched Dane kiss Evie. spreading from between her legs to her breasts. Her feet left the floor as Dane pulled her up his body. Dane closed his eyes and let her kiss him. the way his hands fisted at his sides for a brief second before grabbing her hips and lifting her against him. Ryan liked to watch before joining in. rubbing them against Dane’s hard chest. anticipation building. she felt no fear. And this promised to be a hell of a show. “Because I don’t trust myself not to scare you!” Well. It should terrify her. close enough that she could reach his mouth if she stood on her toes. much less cringe. “Why?” Dane shot out of his chair with a speed that defied logic.Moonlight Temptation “With Ryan as a buffer?” “Yes. He watched Evie succumb.” Without waiting for him to respond. her knees would have buckled at the hungry. And Ryan wasn’t sure she would have. She arched. “Then I guess you better be glad I’m not afraid of you. She’d pushed Dane to the edge of his limit because that was the secret Dane held closest. almost desperate sound he made. and felt as well as heard his low groan rumble through him. her feet planted. Evie opened her mouth to Dane and let the desire she tasted in his kiss blow through her. watched Dane cup the back of her head and move her so he could get deeper into her mouth. His cock throbbed and filled. Heat boiled through her body. Ryan saw the control he tried to exert over himself. Ryan watched Evie process that. 57 . It felt like a bomb blast. her mouth a stubborn line that made Ryan’s smile widen. If she were standing.” She shook her head. Her chin tilted up so she could look Dane in the eyes. aching to be touched. shit. his mouth slanting over hers with a growl Ryan heard loud and clear. her body melting into Dane’s. she fisted his shirt and pulled him down. Evie barely had time to be frightened. think it through then come to her conclusion. where her nipples tightened into diamond-hard tips.

She stroked her fingers into the indentation at the base of his throat. hard and demanding. Just enough for him to growl out her name. She wanted to bite him. His hand on her shoulder caused her to gasp and draw in a deep breath. So she did. dipping into that indentation.Stephanie Julian His mouth ate at hers. tugging her head back so she looked up at Dane. 58 . his breath a harsh rasp against the sensitive skin of her collarbone. she let hers tilt to the side. Salty. He’d kiss her and bend her to his will. Not hard enough to hurt. she sucked in a deep breath. if she let him. allowing her the angle to lick at his skin. her thoughts splintering. Heat poured from his body. stinging little nips that made her sex spasm and her hands slide around his shoulders to hold on. The heat coming off Dane’s body doubled as she shivered against him. Ryan threaded his other hand into her hair. As his head lifted. He’d demand she give everything to him. He bit her. knowing he responded to her every action. His hands tightened on her hips until she swore she felt every single finger like a brand on her body. felt the motion beneath her fingers as he swallowed. waiting… Drowning beneath Dane’s kiss. warm. hot. And behind her. Not that he wouldn’t give to her in return. Dane’s hands on her hips. The anticipation made her skin tingle. or even to mark. seeping into her skin. As her fingers began a tentative exploration. She was so intent on drawing a response from Dane that she missed Ryan’s approach. Possessive. lifting it away from her nape and putting his mouth on her skin. giving his lips more space to roam. Stoking the desire. But he wanted her complete acquiescence so he could control his reaction. he’d completely consume her. Tearing her lips away from Dane’s. unable to process all the sensory information. Ryan’s hand in her hair. She swore she felt his gaze on them. hungry. making her long for skin-to-skin contact and one hand slipped into the collar of his crisp white button-down in search of it. She had no doubt he’d make her come. only to have it catch in her throat when his lips moved to her neck. She smiled. He held nothing back and. Ryan watched. she couldn’t catch her breath. it was his turn to shudder. Opened her mouth over his throbbing artery and bit him. Her head fell back. He stilled.

No man had ever looked at her like that.” “Take the shirt off. Dane would let her do anything to him right now. Go ahead. making her shiver as his breath shimmered across her skin. dipping below to graze the band of her underwear. With her eyes glued to Dane’s. Every muscle in her body tightened and the scent of her own desire spread from between her thighs.” Dane’s voice was little more than a rough growl. much less find the strength to answer his questions. But just having him stand so quiescent before her drove her a little crazy. “You like it. “The thought of the three of us together makes you hot. “It’s just getting interesting. doesn’t it?” She could barely breathe. don’t you?” Ryan whispered in her ear. The urge to rip the obviously expensive shirt made her bite at her top lip to put it out of her mind. she wobbled for a second before Ryan wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her back against him.” 59 . The man looked good in anything but the thought of stripping him out of his dress pants and shirt thrilled her like nothing else could. “I want you to take Dane’s clothes off. But his eyes burned. hon. if she hadn’t been able to watch his eyes. And she’d never shaken so hard with desire she thought she might pass out.Moonlight Temptation Dane’s eyes darkened as he watched her respond to Ryan’s mouth sliding along her neck. “Don’t stop now. When Dane lowered her to her feet. She slipped each disc through its neat hole. hard-edged lust written in the taut lines of his face and the bulge of his erection through his slacks. honey. he won’t bite. Dane stood so still before her and.” The thought of Dane naked made her pussy ache. and so very aware of Ryan’s solid heat behind her. Ryan’s erection pressed like a hot iron against her ass and she arched her back until he ground his hips into her.” Ryan’s fingers stroked along the waistband of her low-rise jeans. Unless you ask him to. Her fingers curled into fists before she lifted them to the buttons on his shirt. “I want your hands on me. she might have thought he didn’t enjoy the feel of her hands on him. She could only nod and press her body more fully against Ryan’s. she began to work the little white buttons through the holes. She wanted to close her eyes so she could wallow in the sensation but the look in Dane’s eyes mesmerized her. the material soft and silky against her fingertips. He’d— She gasped as Ryan’s hands slipped beneath the hem of her shirt and spread across the bare skin of her stomach. kareto.

she only had to lean forward a few centimeters to be able to rub her cheek against the baby-soft fabric. heated and scented by the proximity to his skin. nudging her open until she felt cooler air brush against her lower lips. Evie? Ryan can make you feel better. making Dane’s breath hiss between his clenched teeth.” Dane commanded. Lust. She tugged on the shirt and let her gaze drop so she could watch as his skin was revealed. So proper. hot and pure. she thought with a smile. Her eyes fluttered shut as Ryan pushed the tight denim over her hips and down her thighs. A flush heated her face as Ryan’s hands cupped her ass then petted her from thighs to calves. She shivered. Now. And the white provided such a contrast to his darker-toned skin. almost Victorian.” “Does it hurt.” She obeyed without question. The shirt was warm. her fingers weaving through the crisp. she pulled it out of the waistband of his slacks and pushed it off his shoulders. her nails scraping along his skin. The compulsion made her shove his shirt up to his neck. But there wasn’t an ounce of flab on Dane. Just spread your legs. God. when Ryan puts his mouth on you. Evie. And you will. His abs were rock hard and finely delineated. Grasping the shirt at Dane’s sides. Far from it. a narrow line of dark hair reaching from his bellybutton to disappear beneath his pants. she didn’t know. “I want to watch you when you come. Just as much as she wanted to feel Ryan’s hands on her naked skin.Stephanie Julian God. “Don’t let me stop you. She needed him naked. They stood so close. So…touchable. The man had a six-pack. though Ryan helped her with his hands on the inside of her thighs. leaving her naked from the waist down. When he found time to work out. baby. 60 . Just ignore me. And the last barrier to her exploration of him. As Dane grabbed the shirt from behind and pulled it over his head. “Dane. the man was beautiful. “Open your eyes. aching to be filled. though she wasn’t cold. that’s exactly what she wanted.” Her sex contracted. even more so in the light than she remembered from the dark last night in the woods. made her tremble and clutch at Dane. dragging her underwear with it. dark hair that covered his pecs. To reveal the white cotton t-shirt beneath. Just as Ryan’s hands popped the button on her jeans and slid the zipper open.” Which proved impossible as Ryan lowered himself to his knees so he could take off her battered black Chucks and strip her jeans and panties. she laid her hands flat on his chest.

But she didn’t know what to say.” She barely understood what Dane was saying because Ryan’s fingers were fucking in and out of her in slow motion. His fingers played between her thighs. she needed more.” Ryan stroked her on the inside. He followed it up by spreading her lower lips and inserting one finger inside. his thumbs and forefingers plucking at her nipples. Ryan…” Ryan tweaked her clit. Her breasts barely filled a B-cup but Dane stared at her as if she were a Victoria’s Secret model. She didn’t know if she’d survive if it felt any better. She could only stare into Dane’s eyes. 61 . “You’re beautiful. “Aw. She wanted… No. Unfortunately she didn’t need one. Because if she lost complete control… She couldn’t lose complete control. Just that blunt pressure was enough to make a short. let him ground her. He kneaded the mounds. Another man’s on her breasts. the tight muscles beneath flexing and bunching. Dane’s skin under her palms was suddenly too great a temptation and she curled her fingers into him. sharp orgasm skate through her. it felt amazing now. “Just feel. making her shiver.” Dane released her shoulders to lift her shirt over her head. Her breath caught and held in her throat. Evie.Moonlight Temptation And when Ryan swiped his fingers through the moisture-laden folds of her sex. combined with the stimulation of Ryan’s touch. You’re going to feel amazing wrapped around my cock. “No. don’t think.” Hell. please. Stretching her. completely engulfing them. One man’s fingers inside her body. fuck. she thought she’d come right then. the sensation making her cry out as lightning-hot pleasure barreled through her. But she heard the rough tone of it and that. As Dane’s gaze held her steady. making her want more than his fingers. Ryan’s touch drove her crazy. “Dane.” She wasn’t wearing a bra. “You’re so tight. His gaze dropped to his hands and she felt the tension in her muscles intensify. working another finger inside. She felt every ridge of his fingers as her sheath contracted around them. what to do to make him give her more. Even though these men seemed determined to strip her of it. Evie. Dane cupped her breasts in his hands. tormenting her with butterfly-light caresses. She became a complete creature of sensation. would have made her whimper if her vocal cords hadn’t frozen.

straight and hard. She wanted to strip him of it. And when she’d conquered Dane. And stepped away. She wanted— Dane grabbed her chin in one hand and tilted her head back so he could plunder her mouth and obliterate what little brain function she had remaining. Her clit throbbed. Ryan responded first. She felt his reaction in the jolt of his body and heard it in the sharp intake of breath. Then Ryan put his hands on her shoulders and pulled her away from Dane and back against his naked body. which she gave willingly. She wanted to be fucked. His mouth settled on the curve of her shoulder and his tongue wet her skin with teasing strokes. She swore she tasted his control and his desire on his skin. she’d deal with Ryan. No. She reached behind her to grab Ryan’s hips and urge him closer. just as Ryan was stripping hers. and making her gasp at the loss. They each paused for a brief second and Evie drew in a deep breath. Behind her. one on her breast. But neither man seemed in much of a hurry to give her what she wanted. the painful pleasure almost too much to bear. And still sticky with her juices. Both demanding a response. Who’d moved closer to lay opened-mouth kisses against her spine. His kiss devoured. watched him use two fingers to isolate her clit then squeeze. aching for release but Ryan tormented her without bringing her to orgasm. making absolutely no allowances. The way Ryan’s arms slid around her shoulders. He had a lighter touch than Dane. Her body shook with those emotions as she gave herself permission to surrender to these two men. she heard clothes being tossed away. Heat. needing to be filled. His hands skated over her body as if he wanted to touch her everywhere at once. pressed insistently against her lower back. his fingers broader. his gaze taking in everything. 62 . One hand on her ass. Waiting.Stephanie Julian As Ryan’s fingers continued to fill her. His erection. Dane took a step away. that’s not what she wanted. rubbing her ass against him in a way he couldn’t mistake. Her moan was barely a whisper of sound but both men must have heard it. she leaned in and placed her mouth on Dane’s chest. her sheath clenched in vain. Needed it. Ryan plucked at her nipples before sliding down her stomach to pet the trimmed hair on her mound. a zipper releasing and the thump of shoes hitting the floor. Her lips parted and she licked the indentation between his pecs. his hands covering her breasts to play with her nipples. Her lungs couldn’t work hard enough. She cried out. desire. Withdrawing his fingers from her sex. he stood. temptation. Dane’s gaze followed Ryan’s hands.

So she reached for him.” “Ah. Her cry echoed in the room as streaks of red-hot lust streaked from her clit to her womb and up her spine. She almost had him bared when Ryan spread her legs and put his mouth over her sex. She didn’t have to guess where they were going. easily big enough to accommodate the three of them. The silk comforter allowed her to slide easily across until she stared up at Dane. flat line. Only the bedrooms lay in this direction.” In the next second. A warm. That’s where Ryan took her then tossed her onto it with a smile. his mouth a tight. Ryan didn’t stop to turn on a light but Dane did.” She blinked.” Ryan’s fingers patted her mound. baby. 63 . an ocean of white. Following close on Ryan’s heels. She’d never been in Dane’s bedroom before but the room Ryan entered had to be it. the crisp white bedding that shone like silk. and ebony wood furniture. The bed sat on the far wall. hard enough to sting. She gasped and a quick laugh followed as she bounced once. “Say it. “You don’t want this to be over so fast.Moonlight Temptation “Easy. low glow barely lit the room and provided just enough light for her to make out the dark blue paint on the walls. babe. Ryan swung her into his arms and strode for the back of the house. “What?” Ryan’s voice held a note of command she couldn’t ignore. Oh God. “I want you to suck me. do you?” “I want you to…” To what? What do you want? She wanted them to take her. ripping at the button on his pants and tearing at the zipper to get to the throbbing erection hidden behind the expensive cloth. Her arms circled around his shoulders automatically as she looked over his shoulder to Dane. she hadn’t thought she could get any hornier but his blunt words made her body ache to do exactly what he wanted. Evie. The awkward angle and raging excitement made her hands fumble but Dane let her do it herself. Tell me no. Ryan didn’t ease her into it and he didn’t pause to let her catch her breath.” Ryan bit her earlobe. She didn’t have time to do more though because Dane had walked around to the other side of the bed and grabbed her shoulders. “All you had to do was ask. his dark eyes narrowed to slits as he watched. I want to sink my cock in your throat and have you get me off with your mouth.” “I want you both to fuck me.

And leave her on the brink of the most amazing experience she’d ever had. As he reached for her. trapping her between his arms and legs and bending his head to kiss her. I will never forgive you. Barely able to breathe. filling her mouth with heat as Ryan blew a cool stream of air against her own burning flesh. Evie felt her inhibitions release their hold on her. Heated and flushed. lean body. Positioned as he was. made her suck him harder. Freeing her. He alternated soothing licks with sharp bites until she wanted to beg him to do it harder. “Say no now.” Out of her sight. Dane moved onto the bed and straddled her shoulders. As she rose to her elbows to protest. lifting her into his mouth as his tongue worked her clit with devastating skill. I want this. And she loved it. So when Ryan released her abruptly. God. her eyes flying open to stare into his. I want you. she was already lifting her head to take his cock into her mouth. kareto. Dane controlled the motion of her head but she used every sexual instinct in her to drive him just as crazy as Ryan’s mouth was driving her.Stephanie Julian He drove her up high and fast. 64 . Ryan’s scent fueling her lust in a different way than Dane’s. Ryan came up over her. If you stop now. even as he took what he wanted.” His eyes darkened. she couldn’t move her upper body but she could lift her arms to grab hold of his legs. her tongue curling around the tip. she heard Ryan’s rough laugh as Dane swung his leg over her and freed her upper body. Just as she opened her mouth to do it. faster. She opened to him. His hands gripped her ass. “Don’t stop. licking at the underside. And when Dane pulled away. she didn’t feel overwhelmed or outnumbered. She felt…consumed. she moaned her disappointment around Dane’s cock. steadied.” Dane’s voice made her mouth tighten around him. Perfectly proportioned to his long. Taking him in. Though there were two men on this bed. “Kareto. Both of you. She knew if she told them to stop. Silky-smooth skin slid against her tongue. he pressed against her lips. She shook her head. your mouth… Ti desidero. Not too thick but certainly not thin. they’d pull away. she wanted to come. Sinking further into a state of pure sensation. she actually cried out. she sucked in air through her nose.

of the sense of possession. a grin on those gorgeous lips. She could barely breathe and each breath smelled of sex and warm males.” She didn’t answer. “I’m gonna come. Just as she was about to lift her heavy arms to wrap around Ryan’s shoulders. happy to be filled at last. “Hang tight.” Dane commanded. spilling his seed into her mouth. With me. holding her steady for his controlled thrusts. “So fucking good. winked at her. reached for it. Ryan’s hands held her hips steady as he fucked her with strong strokes. Her arms trembled but she forced them to hold her upright. I want you to go with us. one of his hands sliding around to stroke her between her legs. Ryan’s lips parted hers but where Dane devoured. stretching her. He played and teased until she felt like a boneless ball of liquid heat. She closed her eyes as Dane’s hands threaded through her hair.” Ryan urged her to give in. sweetheart. kareto.” Almost there. Ah. filling her. baby. Let go. “I know you want to. “Take me too. then grabbed her hips and flipped her onto her stomach. “Now. Her pussy clenched around him.” He rose to his knees. spread her legs with his and filled her in one thrust. each slap of his thighs against her ass eliciting a sharp response from her. setting a wild pace that kept her on the edge of orgasm. We’re just getting started. Ryan bent closer.” She couldn’t even cry out as she shook because Dane began to come. just leaned forward to put her lips around his cock. Dane was careful not to thrust too far or fast but Ryan let himself go. Stoking the heated ball of lust in her belly. even as she shook in reaction. She wanted to rest her head on the bed and let sensation sweep her away but Dane suddenly kneeled in front of her. She wanted to come. eliciting a groan from him.Moonlight Temptation Ryan kissed her with no less intensity but without the edge of desperation she’d tasted in Dane. Ryan was more forceful. come on. She trusted these men to take care of her. “Evie. Filled at each end. It’s been so long since she’d felt she’d belonged to anyone. 65 . He felt like heaven. Though this didn’t feel as if she was owned. Her cry filled the room as he began a steady rhythm. She had a brief second to laugh before he pulled her to her knees. she reveled in the sensuality of the act. “That’s it.” The rough command in Dane’s voice made her sheath clench around Ryan. It only took one pinch to her clit and she flamed out in an all-consuming orgasm. She retained the power to say no. Ryan coaxed. In any way.” Ryan groaned. baby. God. he pulled away. Evie.

he lay next to her. As if afraid he might try to get away. Ryan was to provide the emotional attachment. Their friendship wasn’t sexual but was based on need. Get the hell out of bed before she could wrap herself around him and tie him to her even more deeply. catching her before she fell on her face when Ryan pulled out behind her. Always in control. Which he’d planned to do. with her pressed against his side and his arms tight around her. Almost overheated. which wasn’t unexpected. sliding one arm across his chest. his cock sunk deep as he pulsed inside her. it only took a few minutes of conversation with Ryan to make Dane see things more clearly. How right did something have to feel before he admitted it? Yes. Turning his head. Ryan flopped onto the bed and sprawled there. 66 . As did the scent of burning candle wax. On her other side. That was why Ryan was here. And even knowing that. But here he was. But the gesture wouldn’t have meant anything. his arm wrapping around her waist and pulling her lower body against him. She felt boneless against him. Ryan never seemed to need anyone. Dane saw Ryan staring at him over the top of her head. Dane’s need for Ryan. She felt too damn good. he was a ceffo. sure and a little smug. Ryan yawned and shifted around to curl his body into Evie’s back.Stephanie Julian Behind her. For his steady calm. it felt right to have Evie here. her hand curling around his neck. And warm. Dane slipped from Evie’s mouth. between him and Ryan. The sound of their labored breathing filled the air. He knew what Ryan wasn’t saying and Dane couldn’t argue. Holding him in place. in his bed. At least. Dane would’ve flipped him off if he felt like lifting his hand. Ryan froze. And Evie wondered how she’d manage to survive. Steady. Because she wouldn’t let go. he didn’t want to let her go. He didn’t remember lighting any candles— Evie shifted closer. With a sigh. Never thrown by anything. And always willing to drop everything when Dane called. Sometimes. she curled against his chest and wrapped her arms around his shoulders when he would have laid her on the bed and got up. Christ.

But as much as Dane loved Ryan. He’d want to talk. he was a selfish prick. I guess we do. She was the first woman with whom Dane had initiated a relationship. Evie.” Ryan nodded as he looked back at the woman curled into his body. he didn’t want to throw the guy on a bed and fuck him. her skin creamy against the white silk sheets. though her hand clutched at the blankets in the spot where his body had lain.Moonlight Temptation They’d make one hell of a married couple if either of them had wanted that relationship. And Dane couldn’t answer that question. He allowed himself a second to stare down at her. chill. mussed and covering much of her face. Vaffanculo. He’d taken her blood to make a serum to help the child of the woman who’d kidnapped her and held her prisoner for weeks. She didn’t wake. Then he and Ryan had fucked her unconscious. Turning. shone sable in the low light…of the candles he hadn’t lit. He let his gaze fall to Evie.” His temper already climbing. He’d never lit the damn things. “We need to talk. It had to be Evie. But Evie wasn’t just another woman they’d picked up in a bar. His mother had given him the set to “soften the austerity” of his bedroom. “Dane. “I’m not going to let you fuck this up already. Dane carefully released Evie and slid from the bed. Ryan had basically said the same thing to him after they’d shared the first of several women in vet school.” Ryan’s quiet voice held a note of command Dane didn’t hear very often. who’d followed his gaze. He’d want to know what this meant to Dane. He looked back at Ryan. Sound asleep. She needed the rest. Not yet. his gaze narrowed at the golden flares of the candles on his dresser. And that fact hadn’t been lost on Ryan. “Yeah. Hell. Her hair.” 67 .

She was a willing participant. No emotions. And she’s not a child. you didn’t tie her up and rape her. his expression screwing into a frown. And you trying to reduce her to the level of a teenager is only going to piss her off so I’d be careful you don’t spout this shit in front of her. “You’re a scassacazzo. I’ve only known her two days and I can see this. She’s still got a lot to learn and an immense amount of power to control. I might be a pain in the ass. no feelings. but you’re neurotic and it’s starting to worry me. And that wasn’t like him. Steady as a rock. “I’m fucking brilliant. grabbing the short strands and giving them a yank. this is a—” “Dane. “She wasn’t born into the life. You’re getting way ahead of yourself. Why the fuck can’t you? You’re being an ass so just knock it off. Most people who knew him complained that he reacted like a robot most of the time.” “Then why are you acting like a clueless asswipe?” 68 . Christ. And shot Ryan a look.” He sighed and ran a hand through his hair.” “And that’s not normal for streghe?” “Evie hasn’t been a strega very long and she’s not your normal strega.” Ryan shook his head at him. Then another.” “I’m not neurotic. shut the fuck up for a few minutes and take a deep breath. And I completely fucked up everything by forcing her into a situation she wasn’t ready for. yeah.” Dane popped the top off the bottle and let the amber liquid slide down his throat. “Christ. Dane. he was probably overreacting.” “She’s only twenty-two.” Ryan’s tone made Dane jolt to a stop with the realization that.Stephanie Julian Chapter Five “She lost control over her power. “And that’s how the candles got lit?” “Yeah. which he tossed him over the kitchen island.” Ryan grinned at him.” Dane reached into the fridge for a beer and pulled a Coke out for Ryan. He took a deep breath. Dangerous. “Yeah. Vaffanculo. The woman was fucking dangerous to his sanity. He didn’t overreact. Evie may only be twenty-two but she’s got a stronger will than anyone else I know.

” Ryan’s voice had lost the flippant edge of earlier. I don’t have the time to give a woman the attention she deserves. but to him. Ryan? My mom? Our king? I’ve got to fix this before it decimates my people. did everyone else know? Tinia’s teat. Even your mother doesn’t expect you live like a monk in seclusion. but his mother wanted him to take a proper lucani mate and she had the perfect one picked out.” Ryan laughed. He wanted that ass in his bed every night. man.” “What if my sister comes down with it. if his mother found out… He sighed heavily and ran his fingers through his hair. working day and night to find a cure. where he knew she’d be safe. I’m no closer to finding a cure than I was a year ago and every year.” “Jesus. That’s how he functioned. Ione was beautiful and smart. If Ryan had seen it in less than two days. this wasn’t love. “I never wanted to fall in love. If he let his emotions control him. Ryan was right. how he was able to make life or death situations and live with them. It was lust. he wouldn’t be able to work. He’d been unfailingly polite whenever his mother had invited her to dinner when he was there. I need to check on the serum and—” “And you can’t handle this. damn it. Dane. What the hell would his mother think if he brought Evie home to meet her? And why the hell should it even matter? “Look. with a degree in business that she used to increase the wealth of the lucani mutual funds.” No. “Baciami il culo. “Shit. pure and simple. But…Ione didn’t make him burn the way Evie did. tugging on the ends of the short strands in frustration. Dane. I know you hated how he suffered. him either. 69 . She’d gotten under his skin.Moonlight Temptation Dane gave Ryan the finger then forced himself to sit on one of the barstools at the island and nurse his beer. And Evie’s ass made him want to take a bite out of it. But you are not Superman. And you’re lying to yourself. “That the best you can do? Kiss my ass? No offense. you’re entitled to a life. more lucani fall to it.” “I know that last year was tough on your dad. Dane. Not to you. I’m going to the lab for a while. Wanted the woman living in his house. “I know his death was a blessing. Dane had never given Ione any indication of his feelings one way or the other.” No.” Dane wanted to tell Ryan to take a flying leap but he couldn’t do it. but yours isn’t the ass I want to kiss. why didn’t you tell me you were in love with her?” Love? No.

Tell her—” “You’re a fucking coward?” Dane’s jaw set at the hard tone of Ryan’s voice but he bit back the frustrated words that wanted to escape. they needed to be on the same page. Damn it. And Ryan wasn’t about to let him fuck this relationship up. closing it a little more loudly than normal. where. You could actually see the stars. Dane had built his home on the outskirts of the den. Dane didn’t get it. “Take care of her. they were miles away from either Reading or Allentown. And yet. even on the darkest nights. staring out into the blackness of the surrounding forest. And freedom. Isolated. Ryan wasn’t used to it.Stephanie Julian How he was able to continue on with his work on the days he wanted to trash his lab and burn it to the ground because he was so fucking frustrated. With a sigh. Ryan could barely make out the frame of the closest house. He’d lived in Philadelphia most of his life. Exactly what he wanted. Dane wanted Evie. the dim glow of the streetlights managed to seep through the curtains. The bastard knew him too damn well. There were no streetlights and none of the houses used landscape lighting. 70 . Which wasn’t feeling very free at the moment.” Then he made for the door. It’d do neither of them any good and if this relationship had a chance in hell of working. There wasn’t much of a moon tonight. He’d known Ryan would too. Ryan watched Dane practically run for the door. Or at least working from the same manual. so it was pretty damn dark. Hell. “Tell Evie I’ll see her in the morning. Or better yet. They liked it dark out here. Through the surrounding trees. The bastard just refused to listen to reason. Ryan had only known Evie two days and he’d realized his life was going to change. Ryan dumped the rest of his soda down the drain. wake her and make love to her again. And he was going to lose the best damn thing that ever happened to him. I’ll be in touch. as far from the heart of the community as he could get without being too close to the nearest eteri neighbors. Out here. he was going to strangle the man one of these days. Anger burned like acid in his stomach. He wanted to go back to the bedroom and curl up with her.

Absolutely gorgeous. But damn. Then again. Not a bad idea. He’d have to keep an eye on that. should’ve made him draw away. wanting to sink deep inside her again. Her shoulder-length curls covered her face but the sheet had worked its way off her body. She’d been through so much in the past months and now she had him and Dane to contend with. Sometimes Ryan thought there was hope for the guy. Leaving his can by the sink. He smiled as her body lost some of the tight. But right here. he leaned against the jam and let himself stare. Her back straightened the slightest bit and her head tilted toward him. But he couldn’t. right now… He brushed his fingers over her hips and she eased onto her back. He didn’t think Dane would ever do anything to consciously harm Evie. the guy was running scared. And that didn’t mean he only wanted to fuck her. The thought made his teeth clench until his jaw hurt. her eyes still closed but her lips parted. They’d left the door open. It should’ve made him pause. His dick throbbed. And here he was. as if trying to protect herself from attack. Evie had the kind of soft beauty most people thought of as girl-next-door pretty. That wanting could easily become addiction. baring her entirely. careful not to cage her in. he knelt on the edge. the woman gave him a hard-on. 71 . Who was the bigger idiot? Stopping in the doorway. Evie had curled into a tight ball on the bed. Ryan just thought she looked completely fuckable. her skin a pale cream and sprinkled with freckles. Wanting her too much wouldn’t be good for any of them. He had a better way to wake her. defensive posture. her hair sliding back to reveal the delicate curves and angles of her face. Bending close. careful not to disturb her. Slim. ready to give his heart and soul to a woman he’d just met. He wanted to lick every tiny spot on her body. Moving to the bed. he ran one finger up her spine and watched her shiver in response. She looked so vulnerable huddled in the center of Dane’s huge bed. he headed for the bedroom. sleek. that sounded like a plan. Dane had mentioned that Evie still had nightmares about her kidnapping and he didn’t want to leave her enclosed in a dark room alone.Moonlight Temptation Yeah.

Damn. “Jesus.Stephanie Julian Bending over her. Releasing her mouth.” “Ryan. Just pure passion a man could become addicted to.” Her low. he watched her and felt a weight he hadn’t known he was carrying lift from his shoulders when she smiled up at him. When he pulled back to let her breathe. he loved a woman who smiled in bed. “Take me in. rough tone made his cock throb. God.” Her softly spoken words made him pause but it was the look in her eyes that made him smile. God damn. he settled his lips on hers as he ran his hand down her stomach until he felt the curls on her mound brush his palm. Slinging her leg over his middle. her lips parting as his tongue slipped into her mouth.” 72 . He pressed their lips together and just tasted her. She looked happy. He should have. taking his fingers even deeper into her wet. “I aim to please.” Wrapping his hands around her head. She kissed him until they had to pull back to breathe but she dove right back again as her hips shifted. “Then ride me. pushing him back into the bedding. seeking. She moaned. He hadn’t expected it of Evie. you feel great. You’re so fucking tight. When she gasped into his mouth and opened her eyes. So damn sweet. “So please me. No fevered race. Her hips arched. Surprise made her tense but desire followed close on its heels. clasping channel. though not to push him away. Fast and hard. her hardened nipples teasing against his chest. her smile spread as she stared down at him.” Her eyes widened for a second before she smiled. he kissed his way to her ear. And he’d be damned if it didn’t make him feel fucking great. please. tangling with hers. baby.” Her lips curved again. Evie. No hurried rush this time. I’m gonna burn if you don’t do me. She clutched at him. Her hands reached for his shoulders. Then she scrambled to her knees and had her hands on his shoulders. And clenched around his fingers. he slid two fingers inside her clenching pussy. angel. Take what you want. she shimmied until the tip of his cock slid against the lips of her pussy. With her hands braced on his chest. “You have a great smile. Responsive. he drew her down so he could kiss her. her breasts quivering with the sound.

He watched her. Ruthlessly. you’re gonna kill me. faster. She looked so damn pretty above him. He let his hand slide from her hip to between her legs. he stroked her clit. tight and hot. Then he let himself go. She sighed as she sat upright. holding out until he couldn’t any longer. So fucking hot. sealing them together. Soft flicks then tight pinches. But she seemed in no hurry to go on. Instead.” she said. ***** 73 . he’d be content to let her burn him into oblivion. he brushed his index finger against the tight bud of her clit and watched her shudder. her face a study in pleasure. waiting for her to ride him harder. arching his back and holding her tight so he could stay deep inside her as he came. She moaned and her head fell back just as her sex clenched around him and she shook in the throes of her orgasm. to put him out of this wonderful misery. Slow and steady. his cock sinking even deeper. “Please do.” Her voice had lowered to nearly a whisper and it brushed over his skin like a caress. He reached for her hips but didn’t try to direct her movement. He wanted her to be in control. “Evie. He realized he was holding his breath. she took him to the edge and held him there. “It feels amazing. she seated him fast and hard. Sweat slicked his body and hers. The air held a humid warmth that closed around them. Let me get you off. to take what she wanted. His cock throbbed in time with his increased heart rate and she moaned as if she felt it. His muscles zinged and popped as he waited for her to move. Her motions slowed until she barely moved. stolen second before her eyes closed and she began to ride him. her expression expectant.” He didn’t waste any time. Maybe she had. babe. baby. Her sheath clasped him even tighter and he felt the orgasm he’d been holding off build. She moved like a dream—sleek. I want to touch you. She responded to each touch with a shudder until finally she began to move faster. Their gazes met and held for a brief.” “But it feels so good. her skin warm beneath his hands.Moonlight Temptation Pushing up. Move. Parting her swollen folds.” Her eyes opened as her mouth curved.” “Let me make it even better. “I swear I can feel the beat of your heart deep inside me.

Even with the enticing erection pressed against her backside. just not long enough for her to grip. “Well. I’d show you just how fine. It gave her a sense of purpose. “What happens now?” He grinned. His gaze caught and held hers. making the arms wrapped around her close even tighter. one to cup her right breast and pinch the hardening nipple. the other down her stomach to tweak the short hair on her mound. Sleep well?” His voice still held a touch of huskiness. he must have chosen to ignore because his hands began to roam. but I know you want to get to the classroom this morning to get ready before the boys come. they made her melt. Dane’s hair. She bit her lip to hold back a groan. Contentment wanted to drag her back into sleep but the sun slipping past the heavy silk curtains at the window told her it was time to get up. making goose bumps spread across her skin. Which the man behind her would not be allowed to divert. Firm lips pressed against her nape and Ryan shifted until he pressed his erection between the cheeks of her ass. No. she wasn’t ready to give up this comfortable state yet. that voice could definitely become addictive. God. she sank her hands into his hair. But it’s what you’re gonna do because Dane’s not here. So warm. thank you. “Good morning. Then we’ll walk over to the schoolroom in the common building so you can meet your students. if Dane were here with them… She sighed. Reaching behind her. And that made the goose bumps recede as reality began to intrude. Didn’t mean she liked it any less. letting the strands slide through her fingers like silk. she remembered from last night.” Ryan made a move to get out of bed but she grabbed his arm before he could leave. was no less silky. “I slept fine. The first in months. And if we had time. We get dressed and have breakfast then I’ll take you back to your house so you can get clean clothes. you certainly feel fine.” If Ryan heard the note of reserve in her voice. She only meant to stop him from leaving but he flipped her around so he could look into her eyes. “Now we get up and take a shower. Now.” “That’s not what I meant and you know it.Stephanie Julian Evie woke with a warm male body wrapped around her. She had a schedule to keep today. And thawed the sheet of ice threatening to coat her heart. Ryan—” “I know it’s not what you meant.” “Where’d he go?” 74 . She sighed again. The sharp little pain made her body tighten and her sex moisten. angel.

Even when she didn’t see him for months because he’d shipped out to God-onlyknows-where with his SEAL team. He’s going to think…” “What. The serum he’s making takes several steps to complete. She’d never heard anything derogatory said about either of those women. ready to listen to whatever she had to say.” She opened her mouth to say no. Evie?” That she was a slut? No. She’d always felt she could talk to him about anything. He’d never treated her as an untouchable princess to lock away in a glass tower. Maybe that’s exactly what she’d been thinking. And he shouldn’t be. apparently. He explained some of it to me but I wasn’t really listening. because you’re in a relationship with two men.Moonlight Temptation “The lab.” Ryan’s eyes narrowed. “Everyone’s going to know I slept with the two of you. John would never think that. the man was gorgeous. He had a hard-on that stood straight out from his body that he didn’t seem at all embarrassed by when he stretched. You know how Dane gets when he talks about lab work. “And you think people here will think that’s a bad thing?” She thought of Tira and Nica again. He’s trying not to hover but it’s like he can’t help himself. Then she remembered what he was making the serum out of and why. trying to get him to move off her but the damn man wouldn’t budge. the three of them together. And then other. Her smile came a little more naturally. Frowning up at Ryan. God. You know it. she shoved at his chest. You’re stronger than that. And so does your brother. that wasn’t what she meant. And… I don’t want him to think I’m falling back into old habits. “Usually. more explicit memories surfaced. And it hadn’t been. she knew she only had to call and he’d be on the other end. And of course. he kissed her then rolled off her and stood. But Evie. Had it? Damn it. that means you’re going to fall back into your drug habit. Memories from last night. 75 . “So. But her brother… “No. it’s just… My brother’s been a little protective of me lately. you’re not thinking clearly. naked. “Since the kidnapping. “Are you always this annoyingly right in the morning?” His smile made her frown deepen.” Bending his head. yeah.” His eyes narrowed the slightest bit. you know that’s not going to happen. she did. he’s been— I think he’s been trying to make up for not being there when I was taken.” Actually. by the side of the bed.

Now it was close to eight. he was so damn hungry. Then Dane had sat by the boy’s bed for observation until he was sure Alex was asleep. She looked up when he pushed through the door and he couldn’t tell if she wanted to smile or run the other way. He’d had a nagging ache in his chest the entire time he’d spent at the lab but he’d refused to give in to the urge to leave three hours ago and crawl into bed with Evie and Ryan. You’ve got things to do and you don’t wanna be late for your first class. “Come on.” ***** Dane walked back to his home from the holding facility. That were shattered when he found Evie. “There’s the smile I want to see. 76 . Now his eyes burned and his stomach gnawed at his insides. It made him want to lick her from head to toe. wearing a too-big t-shirt. Dane couldn’t help thinking maybe he’d be able to catch them in the act this morning…and join them. Just make it fast. Alex had been sleepy but the kid was used to being awoken at all hours for testing and medicine. Ryan had always been an early riser who loved morning sex. “Hey!” “Come on. fatigue making him go slower than he wanted. We’re already running late. He watched her eyes widen as he continued coming for her. still damp.Stephanie Julian Until he pulled the sheets and comforter off her and left her naked in the center of the bed. Her hair curled around her face. He’d wanted to be home before she woke but the serum had been finished at six and he’d wanted to administer it himself. He smelled his soap on her.” Her students. propped against the kitchen island sipping coffee. He only knew he had to kiss her as he rounded the island and reached for her. babe. as if she’d just gotten out of the shower. He’d smiled for Dane even though he knew the injection into the carotid artery hurt like a sonofabitch. Won’t set a good example for your students. unable to stop himself now that the idea had taken hold. By the time he pushed through his front door. you can use the shower first. Just saying it in her head made her smile. he had a hard-on from the images in his head.” Ryan grinned at her. The thought made him pick up his pace. along with Ryan’s scent.

With his free hand. this was what he wanted to come home to every day. sweet woman. he lifted her until her feet no longer touched the floor. Vaffanculo. he needed more skin. Now at work. Her lips moved under his. Gods. With one arm around her waist. he’d practically crawled out of bed in the middle of the night to run to his lab. If another man touched her… No other man would. And when he had her in his arms. Jealousy didn’t enter into the equation. He strung a line of biting kisses along her neck as he walked through the kitchen and back to his bedroom. Gods. He should have said something… Instead of keeping him out. sleep. 77 . He hadn’t said goodbye. he thought about Evie. who was happy to see him. His shirt. At night. Get up. He felt his senses spark back to life from the fog he’d walked home in. he urged her legs to curl around his waist then he laced his hands through her silky hair and tugged her head back. and she arched her back. he realized Ryan was in the shower. And warm. hadn’t thanked her for taking him into her body. how long had he felt as if he’d been in a constant fog before he’d met Evie? It’d been all work. Vaffanculo. Her arms tightened around his shoulders. He didn’t know what he’d do if she froze. His tongue teased hers. he crawled onto the bed then sprawled across her. he dreamed about her. Her taste cleared the cobwebs until he felt semi-human again. Through his sense of smell. Without releasing her. willing woman who kissed him as if she couldn’t get enough of him. Coffee. total possession foremost in his mind. she wrapped her arms around him and brought him closer. Even though she’d showered. Dane knew the other man had made love to her after he’d left. something sugary. he could smell Ryan’s scent all over her. repeat. eat. a little sleepy but still inviting.Moonlight Temptation “Dane. pressing closer to him. With his mouth sealed over hers. actually. even after the way he’d slunk out of the bed last night. eliciting a moan she couldn’t seem to contain. which is how he expected her to react. A woman who made him burn just by clutching him close to her and moaning into his mouth. He and Ryan would make sure of that. her fingers digging into the muscles. he slid his hands under her shirt. nothing else mattered. A warm. are you o—” He sealed his mouth over hers as he crowded against her. At least not with Ryan. Her lips parted for him to slip his tongue into her mouth and taste her.

as if she couldn’t slow herself enough to get the rhythm right.” Out of the corner of his eye. Their movements felt almost rough. though they were small enough for him to cover completely with his palms. She stroked him with an unsteady pace. “Kareto. his cock would soon have an impression of a zipper on it if he didn’t get his damn jeans off. so perfect. the sound of his breathing harsh in the silence. She must have read his mind because she slid her hands down to unbutton and unzip them. Still. baring her beautiful flesh to his eyes. And. Need clawed at his gut like a ravaging beast. She began to drag his jeans to his knees and when they got caught there because he was kneeling. Not when she was melting around his fingers. soft and still warm from her shower. he saw her lips curve in a sweet smile but he couldn’t tear his gaze from her body. Apparently. so damn hot and wet and tight. Her breasts sat high and firm on her chest. And that was almost as bad. her hands no longer tentative. Didn’t matter. able to take a man’s cock. The depth of his need should have been a warning he was stepping over an edge but he couldn’t seem to care. making him kiss her harder. On his knees above her. to the warm. Completely consume her. neither could she. but he knew it was desperation. She moaned into his mouth as he stroked into her with slow. Already slick with her desire. he couldn’t stop because she showed no signs of fear. in contrast to the ferocity of his kiss. staring up at him. demand a hotter response. deliberate motions. Her body slim but delicately curved. She’d managed to get his jeans pushed down off his hips. She made him burn. the plump lips parted for his fingers and her sheath clutched around them. velvet lips of her sex. He couldn’t wait any longer for her to take him. With a rough groan. So pale. She touched him with the same restless heat he felt in his own hands as they skimmed down her stomach to her center.Stephanie Julian All his. you’re so fucking beautiful. he dragged himself away from her lips long enough to pull the shirt over her head. he paused. She lay there for a few brief seconds. She pushed and yanked until she’d exposed his cock then wrapped her hands around him as her kisses became more demanding. Aching and hard. she rose and pushed him onto his back 78 . She’d taken Ryan. he knew. He petted and stroked her skin.

and his jeans and underwear followed quickly. His erection hardened even more until he swore he’d burst out of his skin. he looked down into her eyes as his cock began to press inside her body. stop tormenting me. Don’t stop. her mouth parting with pleasure. he was able to stave off his own reaction. Heat blasted his skin as she clung to him. He laved the tip with his tongue then bit her. Evie. each inch a victory. Lightning-hot flashes of sensation shot up his spine. he controlled each thrust. lifting her hips into his. He increased his rhythm and noted how she called out his name. every second a revelation. Easing his hips back. He pressed hard and deep and held. His name became a chant falling from her swollen lips. He knew he wasn’t hurting her because she clutched at his shoulders and urged him to go faster with her hips. catching that same angle on her clit and making her gasp.Moonlight Temptation so she could drag them the rest of the way off his body. the base of his cock pressed against her clit as he bent to suck one taut nipple into his mouth. I want you to feel good. Ruthless determination made each motion precise. He watched every response with a researcher’s detail. Battering at his control. Every thrust threw him closer to orgasm but he forced it back. concentrating instead on her. his socks torn away. As soon as she had him naked. “Dane. as gently as he could until she screamed out his name. he reached for her and rolled her under him again. his cock nearly slipped free before he thrust forward again. He loved to hear her say his name as he forged inside her. drawing his balls tight. Each withdrawal made her frown. Used to compartmentalizing every emotion. Her pussy felt almost too tight to let him in but he couldn’t stop. As her head thrashed side to side on the bed and her fingers dug almost painfully into his biceps where she’d braced herself. And drove Evie wild. Her legs wrapped around his hips. He thrust and watched her writhe beneath him. you bastard. Or come before he got inside her. Bracing himself on his hands by her shoulders.” He slowed his thrusts.” “No. “No. “Do you want me to stop?” She moaned and clutched him harder. I want you to get off. His shoes dropped with a thump to the floor. Each tunneling movement made her gasp. Go faster.” 79 . Still he refused to release himself. until her sex rubbed against his cock. tightening her sex around him as she arched her back and took him deeper.

No. She wasn’t ready for that. Her breath blasted his shoulder. So she wrapped the hand around his neck and pulled him close enough that she could lift her head and bite his lip. She was on the Pill. the fierce possessiveness of the act making him grind against her until he had nothing left to give. much less think. The first blast of his orgasm made him groan. Evie could barely breathe. Dane—” He lost a little of his edge at the sound of her voice. heated and moist. With his tongue. he drew her scent into his lungs. He thought he’d be able to hold back. he felt her sex contract around him. he knew this had gone past just fucking. No. His face buried in the curve of her neck. “I’ll get off if you fuck me faster. he lowered his body to cover hers completely. that had been… Wow. he thrust harder though still measured. his tongue pushing into her mouth to tangle with hers. Instinct kept him draped over her for several minutes after that. He swallowed her moan and his hips slammed against hers. Lowering his forehead to touch hers. “So tight. Her fingernails scraped at his back and he begged her to do it harder. He dropped his mouth on hers and kissed her. god damn it. He pumped his seed into her. Fuck. he froze so he could feel her come around him. the electric sensation shooting through his entire body.” “God. Wow. He just didn’t know what the hell to do now that he didn’t know what the hell this was. making it harder for him to thrust. He tried to rein himself back in but once his body slipped the lead he couldn’t. Evie. “Dane. And he was on sensory overload. Even though he knew she couldn’t get pregnant. Feels so fucking good.” He did. he tasted her skin then bit the tender bit of flesh right above her carotid. Thrusting hard and fast now. She gripped him tight in the depths of her body and when she cried out. 80 .Stephanie Julian She reached up with one hand to grab at the short strands of his hair but couldn’t get a grip. He fucked her slow and steady until she was nearly crying for release. to soak in her orgasm but she pulled him along with her.” His control slipped a notch and his next thrust wasn’t as precise. Legs tightening around his waist. Damn it. move. he couldn’t lose his head. With her arms still wrapped around Dane’s back and her body still shuddering in the aftermath of a wickedly intense orgasm.

And she decided she didn’t want to hear it right now. As if she could run a marathon. resettling them until they were both on their sides. don’t.” Dane punctuated his words with a sharp bite on her earlobe that sent shivers up her spine and made her sex contract around him. “Dane. Which made him groan. She felt…amazingly energized. she had to wonder if he’d really let himself go. But the rapid pace of his breathing and flush on his cheeks told her what she wanted to know. right? “Evie. God. Or flick her fingers and burn the house to the ground. as if he wanted to say something she wasn’t going to like. “Kareta…” She heard caution creep into his tone. Dane’s solid body pressed her into the bed with a living heat that seeped into her body and made her muscles want to soften to the consistency of jelly. He shifted above her until her arms loosened and he could put enough space between them to look down at her. I just want to…” What? She wanted just to feel good. however. As he slid free of her body. Please. Those dark eyes examined hers with such steady regard. looking at each other. Focus on Dane. And reveled in the fact he kissed her back until he pulled away with a groan. She wanted only to breathe in air laced with his masculine scent and she wanted to watch her hands as they stroked up and down his back with lazy possession. His eyes widened and his lips parted but he didn’t say anything. But how can just the sound of your voice make me feel hot all over?” There. Okay. she felt great. And right now. And she liked hearing that. She’d leaned in to kiss him before she realized what she was doing. why would she even think something like that? It was weird. “Are you okay?” “I’m fine. 81 . She moved her fingers over his mouth. he shifted to her side. whatever you’re thinking about right now.Moonlight Temptation Her senses were getting a hell of a workout. maybe she was a little too juiced. I want you to stop. she’d shocked him. Which was kinda scary.

” The shock on his face gave her enough of a kick to straighten her spine and head back to the shower. And more than enough time later to work through the oh-so-very complicated mess her love life had become last night. Dane nodded. Just the thought made her smile against his chest. 82 . And I don’t want to be angry with you.” Standing by the bed.Stephanie Julian After a few seconds. Three little boys to teach. “Evie.” With a shove. she pushed against his chest until his arms loosened enough for her to scramble off the bed. Later. And then I’m going to meet my new students. You have to understand—” “Ugh. “I had to leave last night. “I’m—” He sighed. She had commitments to keep today. Maybe she was kidding herself. “Don’t say another word. you had to do this now. If this…relationship continues. you need to realize there will be times I’ll have to leave—” “Dane. she held up one hand. Now…I’m going to take another shower. Dane Dimitriou. Not now. but she refused to think about anything other than the day ahead. Three children to teach.” “Yes. And pressed a kiss against her fingers that made her tingle from head to toe before he wrapped her in his arms. She knew they couldn’t stay there long. I’m gonna have to get angry. But she knew the two big boys she’d had in bed would have to be dealt with. now. tucked her head under his chin and cuddled her. vaffanculo—” “Don’t you swear at me. too. not now. If you do.

Besides. That didn’t mean he could control the way he felt. Vaffanculo. Ryan watched Dane as he poured himself a cup of coffee before he sat at the table. fucking mis— Ryan rapped his knuckles on the table. Why the fuck did he think he had time for a relationship? Especially one as complicated as this.” Dane bit back a reply that would have called Ryan’s paternity into question and possibly damaged their long friendship. He opened his mouth— “Don’t even say it. He had research to conduct. Ryan’s gaze had sharpened to an edge Dane rarely saw. A disease to cure. A little boy to save. not even pretending to read the magazine in front of him. Dane.Moonlight Temptation Chapter Six Ryan sat at the kitchen table. “This is not the time for you to freak out. No. He didn’t have time for messy emotions. “Just tell me one thing. it only took the sound of the shower for his dick to get hard again. And that was dangerous. He’d made a huge. cursing Ryan silently. drawing Dane’s attention back to his best friend. When you’re with her. he knew Ryan was right. How the hell did the guy know the one thing to say guaranteed to throw Dane offkilter? Because now that Ryan had said it. “You need to sleep. And Ryan knew him well enough to know talking was the last thing Dane wanted to do. With more force than necessary. Dane couldn’t stop thinking about it. Dane knew by the look on Ryan’s face that Ryan wanted to talk. Just the thought of Evie naked and wet made him react like a horny teenager. “I’m going to the lab.” Ryan didn’t bother to look away from his magazine.” Ryan cut him off before he could speak.” 83 . And Dane picked up his coffee. Dane pushed away from the table. Dane. And that was completely unacceptable. he couldn’t even begin to sort that mess out now. does anything else matter?” Ryan held him with that stare for several seconds before returning his gaze back to the veterinarian journal on the table. And the way he felt about Evie… Hell.

Ryan was baiting him and he refused to rise to it. “I don’t have time for his. “And then what?” 84 . Icy calm. She reminded him of a timid stray. He circled the counter. Ryan?” He heard a bit of sharp claw in the question and figured he’d better have a good answer. yet she was starved for affection. But Dane had surprised him. what he needed was to get a grip. According to Grace. He looked up. Leaving Evie blinking and Ryan smirking. And Dane fucking confused as all hell. afraid to let anyone pet her for fear they’d hurt her. He smelled it on her. She was pissed at him.” Evie had emerged from the bathroom and was walking toward him. “What are we doing here. “Tell Evie I’ll have Alex delivered to her around two. And beneath that. Instead. “We’re getting to know one another.” There. Dane had kissed her and she’d stilled like a stroked cat. her scent. at six. he did. He was sleeping when I left at eight. Evie gave the sigh he’d held back. Ryan held back a sigh but only barely. her expression calm. like the scent of hot chili powder. “Couldn’t stay away. apparently. he should see an immediate improvement after the first treatment. Thing is. he pressed a kiss just below her ear and she shivered. I need to take a shower and—” “Then it’s all yours. “So you already started him on the serum?” “Yes. He couldn’t help the analogy.Stephanie Julian No. And Evie too. And allowed Ryan to hold her on his lap.” She turned to look him in the eyes. who didn’t hesitate to put his arm around her and draw her onto his lap. She tensed for a brief second but Ryan wouldn’t let her freeze up. Which just revved up his libido once again. Bastard thought he knew him so well.” Ryan’s mouth curved into a smile and it was all Dane could do not to punch it off his face. I shouldn’t have left. Dane couldn’t help himself. That caught Ryan’s attention. She walked over to the counter and stopped next to Ryan. He’d thought he was going to have to punch a little sense into Dane. kissed her in the exact same spot as Ryan then turned and headed for the shower. huh?” Dane’s hands curled into fists at his sides before he forced them to relax.

a small smile perking up the corners of her lips. then we’ll leave. Just let me—” The knock at the door caught them both off guard. “Good morning. “Fine. “Good morning. Patricia. This was sure to send Dane into conniptions.” He laughed again and pressed a kiss to her nape. But he knew Dane wouldn’t want Evie to feel uncomfortable and the look on her face showed sheer panic. he waved in Dane’s mother. Ryan walked to the front door and checked the sidelight. His mother had impeccable timing. “Horny?” She gave him a very female look of exasperation.” She nodded and hurried to the bedroom. And don’t look so glad about that. loving the shiver that ran through her. Shit. not right this minute. He knew almost everyone in the den and they all knew him. If Evie hadn’t been standing there in nothing but Dane’s shirt. God no! I’m just…” Ryan smiled at the wide-eyed look of panic on her face. “Then why don’t you let me take you back to your house so you can get changed?” Nodding. Ryan opened the door.” His smile widened.” “So…it’s not sexual?” “And it’s not romantic. But not the ‘Hey.” A soft smile lit Patricia Dimitriou’s classically beautiful face. “We could start there. fuck and double damn. I wanna strip you naked and jump your bones’ kind of way. Evie. he would have answered the door. “Yeah.” Swinging open the door. Dane didn’t tell me you were visiting. knowing she had already scented him.” “Do you love him?” Her question startled a laugh out of him. At least. “Confused?” She sighed again. I do. 85 . I am not horny. Forcing a smile. Ryan. allowing her to press a quick. cool kiss to his cheek. “Get dressed. “I’ve had more sex in the past twenty-four hours than I’ve had in the past three years. Though a lucani’s eyesight was pure human. When he heard the door close. “Then we see where it takes us. their sense of smell rivaled a real wolf’s. she slid from his lap. And nearly groaned.Moonlight Temptation Good question.” “And there’s no jealousy over me?” “Do you want there to be?” “No.

And she’d set him on a pedestal other mortals would have fallen off long before now. Yes. I didn’t. “Good morning. His family. “No. just as it did Patricia. Though she exasperated him. Patricia Valenti Dimitriou’s ancestors had long-held titles in the Etruscan hierarchy. the man had inherited more than his eye color from his mother.Stephanie Julian It’d taken Ryan years to attain that level of affection from the woman Dane idolized. She has some papers for you to sign for the investments your father left you.” Dane nodded.” Moving to the kitchen. fuck it. And while the lucani no longer recognized any title other than king.” She paused and Ryan braced for impact. but I’ve got to run in a few minutes. he really didn’t want to lie to Dane’s mother and he didn’t think he could. She’s brilliant. But I can see you have other plans. I’ll let you talk to Dane. I’ve never had the pleasure. You’ll be able to shop to your heart’s content. “Did you bring someone with you?” Shit. though Dane has spoken of her. Have you met Ione. Dane worshipped his mother. “No. “I just got here yesterday. That air of supreme confidence Dane wore like a second skin suited him to a T.” “You look like you could use one. anyway. Would you like some coffee? I’ve got to run but Dane should be out of the shower in a few minutes. it was just the way she was built. She and Dane have been close since they were children. Patricia was not a cold woman. of course. I’m…taking a vacation. “I only have a few minutes. So he figured. I stopped on my way into town. no one could doubt Patricia and her children descended from nobility. Patricia. It wasn’t that she didn’t love her children. Dane stiffened. I’m taking Miranda to New York for a show and I thought…” She turned as Dane emerged from the hall leading back to the bedrooms. your sister will enjoy that. If his smile seemed at all strained. he heard Patricia’s sensible heels clicking against the hardwood floor almost tentatively as she followed him.” And there was the twist of the knife in Dane’s soft spot. She’d needed that backbone of steel to take care of a husband whose body and mind slowly failed while she’d raised two children basically on her own. though Ryan knew he’d never dress down his mother. working for one of the large brokerage firms there. dear.” 86 . It was nice to see you. “I was hoping you would stop by Ione’s. his mother chose to ignore it. but she wasn’t demonstrative.” She stopped just inside the door and cocked her head to the side. “I’m sure you and Miri will have a good time without me. Miranda and I are leaving for New York and I wanted to ask you again if you’d like to come.” “I only have a few minutes. She’d been living in Philadelphia. Ryan? She moved back to the den not long ago. showing no signs of stress. But she missed her home and her family. I didn’t know you were stopping by. not even with her own children. Mother.” “Yes. Especially not in front of other people.

And Evie certainly didn’t fall into that category. And maybe getting out of here would help her regain a little composure before she met with her students. Not for anyone. who acknowledged Ryan’s concern with a faint nod. But first they needed to wait for Dane to get rid of his mother before they could leave. he’d made love to her as if he couldn’t keep his hands off her. She wasn’t. She was the one who’d cowered in here as if she were ashamed. wondering why she felt so damn hurt. And Ryan knew this was a battle she didn’t think she could lose. “Evie. She wore another of Dane’s t-shirts and the jeans she’d worn yesterday. She’d never met the woman. closing the door behind him then turning on the shower. Apparently Patricia Dimitriou had a stick up her ass about Dane marrying the perfect woman. staring out the window. Of course. Ryan hadn’t finished by the time Dane opened the door. He hadn’t ordered her to stay in here and avoid his mother. And yet last night and this morning. She refused to be.Moonlight Temptation Ryan’s gaze caught and held Dane’s. Evie didn’t turn when she heard Ryan enter the room. The situation was enough to make her head explode. She couldn’t imagine he’d want to give up his autonomy. which meant mating a woman with pure lucani blood. Damn it. 87 . he should have thought further ahead and had her bring a bag yesterday but he probably would’ve scared her off. she felt Ryan squeeze her shoulder before he headed for the bathroom. he found Evie. but she’d heard about her from Tira and Nica. so it couldn’t have been that long. Stifling a sigh. Pushing through the bedroom door and shutting it behind him. she didn’t think Dane wanted to mate with anyone. Ashamed of what she’d done with these two men. The lucani had amazing hearing and she figured Dane wouldn’t want his mother to hear anything she had to say. She didn’t speak either. And yet… Dane’s mother was out there. Hell. She knew that person was female but she was also smart enough to know what battles to fight and when. just because they’d had sex didn’t mean mating was next on the list. Patricia knew there was another person in the house. fully dressed.” She turned. Which wasn’t fair.

do you want to talk about last night? Or do you just want me to ignore the fact you didn’t come home? And that it looks like you won’t be back tonight either. “Come back tonight. He kissed her. Opening her mouth.” Then he turned and left. He left her breathless. I’ll see you when I bring him for class.Stephanie Julian It wasn’t as if he’d told her to stay in the room. But he certainly wasn’t unaffected by her. wrapped his hand around the back of her neck and closed his mouth over hers.” Her stomach erupted with butterflies. But Dane’s expression gave her nothing to go on. barely messing the short strands. her smile wide as she watched Evie throw clothes in a bag. She’d realized last night she loved running her hands over it. I understand. hard and fast. His cheeks held a dark flush and his breath sawed in and out of his lungs. 88 . She’d made that decision herself. “I must go check on Alex. “Dane…this has all happened so—” He closed the space between them in two steps.” “I want—” His jaw clenched. And her lips curved in a smile she couldn’t contain. Yes. “Good. she nearly swooned. “Is that a question? Or a demand?” His eyes closed for a brief second before he took a deep breath. “I’m fine. she wanted to come back tonight. calmed the butterflies in her stomach. To stay here tonight. “It’s a request. “I’d like you to come back tonight. she drew in his heat. An acceptance leaped onto her tongue but she bit it back.” He didn’t even pretend to make it a question but she nodded anyway. But she also didn’t want to appear too eager. let it warm her. and when he released her. ***** “So. amazingly. Are you—” He sighed and ran a hand over his head. Damn the man. She had no idea what he was thinking.” Her hands went to her hips as her gaze narrowed down to glare at him. His kiss stole her breath and.” Cat sprawled on Evie’s bed. I’ve got to check on Alex. I’ll drive myself back to meet the boys. She flicked her tongue against his lips and nearly melted when he groaned into her mouth. Ryan’s going to take me home to change.

“Cat. I swear he has a stick up his ass most of the time but then—” She sighed. Damn. “Is it wrong to want there to be more to life than spells and potions and running in my pelt?” 89 . “Nothing’s going on.” Evie’s gaze narrowed as she worked those tersely spoken words over in her mind. I’m a slut. “Yes. “Wait. “No. Oh God.” Cat pinched her arm. realizing she was about to tell Cat how hot he was in bed.” Cat’s gaze faltered and dropped and.Moonlight Temptation Evie’s own smile couldn’t be contained. that was a definite. I just met him two days ago and I slept with him. I’m not coming back tonight. Hell. Absolutely nothing.” Evie narrowed her gaze on Cat as a thought crossed her mind. I like Ryan. But if you bring out that side of him. The man is a contradiction. “He kisses me like he can’t get enough. No. What’s going on?” She shook her head and her smile made a comeback as she lifted her gaze back to Evie’s. And Dane.” With a groan. Dane has always been kind of uptight about everything. Evie dropped the bag on the floor and fell onto the bed next to Cat. Evie saw uncertainty in Cat’s expression. doesn’t that show you how he really feels about you?” Well. “But you want there to be something going on. I can’t wait to talk about last night because I just don’t know what to think. if my dads even thought I was having sex don’t you think I’d be locked in my room at Dad Kyle’s house?” Yeah. “Is this a relationship? Or just sex? Is it only a fling or—” “Do you really think Dane would be into a fling?” “I don’t have any idea. And the sex was great. for the first time. Nothing at all. Still… “But you’re thinking about it.” Cat shrugged and her gaze dropped to stare at the quilt on the bed. tell me. She’d never seen the girl as anything other than openly confident. Jeez. she’d been so wrapped up in her own drama. I want to talk about last night. are you having sex?” Cat rolled her eyes.” “About what?” “About what they want from me. when she put it like that… “But what about Ryan? I mean. you’re not. I like him a lot and I just met him. But not before Evie caught the sheen of tears in her eyes.” “Doesn’t his kiss tell you more about his feelings than anything else? I mean. “Don’t you think I would have told you if I was? Please. hard. I don’t know why you eteri always think sex is bad. Besides.” “And…that’s not a good thing?” “It just means there’s nothing to tell. Why can’t it just be fun?” “I don’t think sex is bad.

Her parents were devoted to her.” “I’m sure you can reschedule. And I absolutely get that you feel stuck in neutral here. No. There’s no challenge. we’re going to dinner and then we’ll do a little retail therapy. startled eyes.” “No. honey. And they’ll be here when I get back. They only wanted her to be happy. Because if they had. Evie didn’t think her parents even suspected there was anything wrong. And when she finally got herself under control. she hadn’t thought of that. But…you have to look at this from my perspective. “I don’t think you’re stupid. you’re not. I’m glad I provide you with so much amusement. They’d worry and want to know what’s wrong. I think you’re one of the smartest people I know. someone would’ve done something about it. And what can I tell them? I’m bored? I want to go to the movies and shop at the mall. I want to go on a date with a guy and have him kiss me good night. Cat. Catene. really not.Stephanie Julian Evie couldn’t help it. Cat was nothing if not loved. I’m stupid. She laughed. Of course. Cat. I’m not laughing at you. And she’d gotten so damn good at hiding it. Hell. Maybe they wouldn’t trust her with Cat out among the eteri.” “Have you said anything to your mom or dads? Have you told them—” “I can’t tell them.” Cat’s eyes rounded. Unless… Do you think your parents don’t want you to go out with me?” Shit.” “No. it’s all just so freaking stupid. Magic. I’m being stupid. And you can’t either. what do you want?” “Truthfully? I don’t know what I want. “I can’t. she looked over to see Cat shaking her head. they wouldn’t— 90 . She laughed until she could barely breathe. she was eteri. The only— No. Then she started to really laugh and couldn’t stop. “Gee. one short burst of sound that made Cat look up at her with wide. you’re right. I promised Ralisa I’d help her with the warding spells tonight. How had they all missed it? “Hey.” The sparkle made a comeback in Cat’s eyes before she shook her head. is there? Everything comes so easy to you. You’re brilliant and sweet and funny and beautiful. So you know what? We’re going out tonight. You and me.” Cat just shook her head. “No. Spells. And Cat was really.” Evie heard tears in Cat’s voice and knew whatever Cat was feeling ran deeper than she’d suspected. “What? Where are we going? Wait. I just know it’s not making potions and running through the same hundred acres of woods.” Evie rolled up onto her elbow so she could watch Cat’s face. what about Ryan and Dane?” “I could use a little break myself. werewolves. Your life is full of magic that you can control. potions.

Mom and the dads love you.” “Yeah. “Do you think we pushed her too hard?” Sighing. “Honestly. thank you. “Yeah. well. just not until later. he wasn’t sure.” ***** “So it’s just you and me until later tonight. Cat squealed and grabbed Evie for a hug. “Stop that. Are you going to take Alex over?” He’d considered not taking the boy himself since he’d wanted to study the amazing changes in Alex’s condition but now. it also lets the head think clearer. thank you! This will be great. neither having much to say. we’ll hit the mall. I just thought you’d want to go back to Dane and Ryan tonight. If we had more time.” Cat’s smile was infectious. Or even just dinner is—” “After dinner. You know that. “Then we should go to The Cellar for dinner. You don’t want him to be late for his first class. I’d say we’d head to King of Prussia but we need at least a full day to do that.” Immersed in the data from Alex’s latest blood test.” A heavy weight settled on Dane’s chest. Dane didn’t respond right away. She just got to the community building and is waiting for the kids. He wanted to see Evie’s face when she told him why she was going out with Cat instead of coming home with him and Ryan. all thoughts of levels and markers evaporated and he turned to Ryan with a frown. “She says she’s still coming over. I think I’m going to need a break from males. And she didn’t sound upset when I talked to her just now on the phone. I don’t know. his gaze somber. The Berkshire Mall has Hot Topic and Aeropostale and Hollister. “Thank you. “She’s going out with Cat? I thought she agreed to come back here after she was finished with the boys. It took a second for Ryan’s words to sink in. not appearing too upset about the change in plans. They make the best gelati and they make their own pasta. She seemed okay when I dropped her at her house. 91 . “Cat and Evie are having a girls’ night out. When they did.” They walked to the holding facility. Ryan leaned back in the chair as far as he could without tipping.Moonlight Temptation But Cat was shaking her head.” Ryan shrugged. I think we can start there.” Ryan dropped into the chair next to Dane’s desk.” “Think about what?” About what the hell I’m doing. “Haven’t you ever heard the saying distance makes the heart grow fonder? Well. maybe a little distance will help me think better. I’m taking Alex.” “Then you better get a move on. And by the time I’m finished corralling three little boys for school lessons they probably don’t want.” And definitely hit Victoria’s Secret as well. Then we could go to the mall.

Only around Alex did she show any softness. “Can we go?” “Yeah. I must thank you for that. Dane. In a few minutes. Only the strongest battering ram or explosive could bring it down. And as I’ve told you before. Probably to hide the fact she was crying. “You don’t need to thank me for treating Alex. fairly vibrating with excitement. Not that Grace Bell had much magic. She really was a beautiful woman. Dane headed through the door at the back of the room. But she was one hell of a scientist.” His smile practically split his face in half. As he opened the door. Dr. “Hey. Grace. 92 . “Hello. He’ll be perfectly safe for the two hours he’ll be in class with the other children. we don’t harm children. staring out the window. Alex’s care had to come first and he needed to speak to Grace about the next phase of treatment. Nodding to the guard on duty. he knocked on the door and waited for Grace to acknowledge him. the same straight nose and her dark auburn hair gave the impression of suppressed heat though she carried herself as if her backbone had been fused straight. as he was every time he saw her. Grace finally turned and Dane was struck by the woman’s features. How are you feeling?” “I feel great. Closing the door behind him. Grace. Most of the lucani who met her thought she was arrogant. Dane leaned back against the solid oak. “Hey. Grace Bell had that same haughty expression. Not even a spell would work because the entire building had been warded against the use of magic. Un-fucking-believable. you can. she remained with her back to him. if that’s okay. But I’m going to have my friend Ryan take you. Her power registered so low as to be practically nonexistent. which he could tell because he could see her wipe her face in the window’s reflection.Stephanie Julian Alex was waiting in the front room.” Okay. Is it time to go?” Dane didn’t have to force his smile but he did try to hide the amazement at the boy’s complete turnaround. But I have to repeat my objection to allowing him to go alone to this so-called classroom. How are—” “Alex is responding well to the treatment. He had no doubt the boy could handle a few hours with Evie. What the hell was her name? Oh yeah. I’m a doctor. She faintly reminded him of an actress he’d seen in an old black-and-white film.” With a sniff. I need to talk to your mom. His face glowed with health and his eyes shone. Katherine Hepburn. Alex.” As Ryan knelt down to introduce himself to the boy.

Grace and Dane had tap-danced down this road before. “Grace. His eyebrows lifted and she turned away with a huff.” “If Alex’s father wanted him back.” Which he knew to be true but he also knew there was something she wasn’t telling them. a nervous gesture he’d noticed her making more often than ever. “Will there be guards at all times?” “Of course. She really was terrified.Moonlight Temptation Dane had spent enough time with her to realize it wasn’t arrogance.” 93 . But she bit her lip. But now that Alex and Evie would be in close proximity.” Dane could barely control his response to her heated statement. Before something happens. “Because he’s never been a factor in Alex’s life.” “Because he is.” So her fear had something to do with Alex’s safety. were you?” Grace’s gaze narrowed as she stared at him. as if pissed off at herself for letting anything slip. something that may put him in danger. But maybe it’s time you told me what exactly you’re so afraid of. She wasn’t just afraid. Pulling out a chair from the small table in the center of the room.” She huffed. “You weren’t born Mal.” “Are you saying there’s a possibility his father may try to take him?” “I’m telling you. she’d been terrified. We’ve discussed this before. And today was the day she gave them to him. “You know I wasn’t. He wanted answers. We won’t allow anyone to harm Alex. if there’s something we need to know about Alex’s father. But not for herself. you need to tell me now. you don’t have any idea what you’d be up against if he did. Dane had had enough of her prevarication. Several times. Of Alex’s father. as if disgusted that he thought she’d be afraid of anything. there would be nothing anyone could do to stop him. “I’m worried about Alex. Now they were getting somewhere.” “But you’ve never told me who Alex’s father is. “Then why are you so terrified of him that you won’t even tell me his name? You treat him as if he’s the boogeyman. The woman really didn’t have a trusting bone in her body. he sat and watched her eye his every move with suspicion.” She bit her lip again. It was fear. Not surprising considering she’d lived with and worked for the Mal most of her life. She covered it well but from the moment she’d been brought here. I don’t like the fact that you’re taking him out of the building without me.

Grace. Dane had never seen her react so violently. But at least they were upfront about it. we don’t want to take Alex—” “Don’t lie to me. “He’s still just a baby and I will fight you to the end before you take him away from me. I kidnapped Evangeline Simmons and kept her confined so I could siphon her blood. “Why wouldn’t he? I worked for the Mal for the past fifteen years. The only time he’d seen Grace Bell lose her cool was when she’d thought Alex was being taken away from her. the sound audible in the quiet room. he feared she’d hurt herself. Then her lips pursed and her gaze slid away to the window. Your king will never allow it. We’ve done fine on our own all these years. it’s painless and fast. I can only hope that when the end comes.” “At least with the Mal. isn’t she?” Grace nodded as she took in a deep breath. Don’t you want to get out of this room?” She shook her head. even when Alex’s father discarded us when Alex wasn’t born Mal. but he could see she’d stopped to think about what he’d said. But I won’t leave Alex unprotected. speechless. Grace. we don’t have to be the enemy.” She stopped to catch her breath and Dane saw the opening and took it. And when my grandmother wanted to take him away from me. And when I’ve told you all I know. “You’re kidding.” Dane blinked as he sat. For the first time. He could see she was trying to rein in her emotions but he wanted those emotions. Grace—” “I knew if I screwed up or made waves that I’d be made to disappear.” “Grace. right? You honestly think Cole’s going to have you killed?” She swallowed. “Your grandmother’s Mal. Here. I only hope to remain breathing until Alex is a teenager. I can’t believe I’d be allowed to live. 94 . Then he shook his head. He’d thought they’d made it clear they didn’t plan to separate her from her son. Her hands had clenched into fists at her sides and tears threatened to spill down her red cheeks.” She shook her head so hard. We’re not animals. for several seconds. I knew where I stood. And we’re not Mal. And you’ll get rid of me. “No. you’re so nice to my face but I know you just want to drain me of info about the Mal. We’ve managed.” Frustration gave her voice an edge he rarely heard from her. “I know you think I’m dangerous and I— You’re just waiting for an excuse to get rid of me.” She’d wound herself up and couldn’t stop. I made it impossible for her to do it.Stephanie Julian “Then why don’t you explain it to me. “I know I’ll never leave this building.” “Vaffanculo.” “Grace—” “But Alex needs me. I’ll be useless. she actually appeared to consider talking to him.

Or the catch. Most lucani reacted first. My grandmother’s Mal. “He disobeyed an order. relying on their emotions and their senses. especially when he knew she wasn’t Mal. Then let me know what you want to do. She’d had to be to survive living with the Mal for so long. “Think about what I said. “Yes. Dane took a few seconds to think about his reply. before he was killed.” She looked so genuinely confused. They were alike in ways he’d never expected. He thought Grace was much the same way.” “Dane. Are you really that loyal to the Mal that you would sacrifice yourself to protect them? I don’t think you are. And tried not to let emotion bog him down.Moonlight Temptation Though he hadn’t discussed it with anyone. Dane always thought everything through before he acted. What had started as his determination to find out why Grace had taken Evie had become more than that as he’d slowly gotten to know Grace.” She began to pace the room. “Why do you care?” “Because I care about Alex. You just need to give us sign of your trust. “I don’t even want to speak his name.” “And that warranted a death sentence?” Now she met his gaze. looking like a cat who’d been kept in a cage too long. “Because I have to believe there’s some part of you that wants more than to be a puppet for the Mal. He’s never had any interest in Alex and I never want to give him a reason to.” “How’d he die?” Her eyes closed for a brief second before she stared at the wall. as if trying to find the hidden meaning in his words. no. Dane rose from the chair and headed for the door. 95 . He can’t have Alex—” “And we can help you keep Alex away from him. You’ve got a great kid and I would hate to see him lose his mother because she did something stupid and unnecessary. Grace? Haven’t you considered that we can help you?” She took a deep breath then bit her bottom lip as she stared at him. Grace. And so was my father. I think you want to trust us. She stared at him. “Why?” “Why what?” “Why would you do that? Especially for me.” He stopped as he opened the door and turned to look at her. Haven’t you thought about that. Tell me who Alex’s father is and—” “No! God. Dane had made it his personal mission to get Grace to open up.” Grace opened her mouth to speak but shut it just as fast.

I’ll bring Alex back myself. he almost felt sorry for her. Grace.” “Just think about it.Stephanie Julian She looked so torn. She straightened and her expression cleared as if she’d wiped it with an eraser. “Thank you for taking care of Alex. Then he watched as she reined herself in.” 96 .

she knew she would’ve brooded over the situation with Ryan and Dane. Four-foot imps.” Evie leaned back in her chair even as she pulled her coffee cup closer. but since you’ve got Etruscan blood. she and Cat had been sitting at their table on the side of the dining room. For the past two hours. When she’d gone home to change. Cat made it impossible to brood. though no one sat close enough to overhear. eaten. I’ve never had better food in my life. for obvious reasons. Otherwise. Of course. I swear it made me see stars.” Evie lowered her voice. Cat had met her at the house and hadn’t stopped talking since. 97 . Next Cat would tell her there were flying monkeys. The girl’s blue eyes glowed with excitement and that excitement had rubbed off on Evie as she’d showered and changed before leaving. They don’t let just anyone in the kitchen. “I know.” “And the chefs. she hadn’t had time. she’d just eaten dinner with a werewolf and she’d had mind-blowing sex with another earlier today so… She just kept shaking her head. She didn’t think Cat noticed at all. She’d corralled three little-boy bundles of energy for three hours this afternoon and loved every minute of that too. the lighthearted sound drifting over the thinning crowd at The Cellar in downtown Reading. And Evie had to admit it’d been the best thing for her. “Yep. “Jeez. we can meet the chefs before we leave. As it turned out. They love to hear how much you enjoyed their food. Taking her cue from Cat’s above-the-knee plaid wool skirt. Evie knew they’d turned more than a few male heads when they walked through the door of the restaurant. I think I ate my entire weight in pasta. you can. They’d talked. though. If you want. red silk blouse and stiletto heels.” Cat laughed.” Evie just shook her head and took a sip of her coffee.Moonlight Temptation Chapter Seven “Oh my god. nodding. but I think I could still eat another serving of that tiramisu.” Cat finished for her. form-fitting blue sweater and kitten-heeled black-patent boots—which made the girl look freaking amazing—Evie dressed in tight black pants. talked some more and enjoyed every minute. She was just too damn happy to be free. “are really four-foot tall imps who have a gift for cooking?” “Monachetti. but she thought she’d been ready for a little peace and quiet. though.

Cat. A meal where they’d managed to avoid talking about men.Stephanie Julian Which wasn’t the word she was looking for. And murder mysteries. There were times when I really thought I was going to lose my mind but you never gave up on me. Evie had learned that Cat loved to read historical romance and Douglas Adams. the bloodier. her hand tightening on Evie’s. for that. And he kind of reminds me—” She stopped before she brought up Tivr’s name. Or feeling the need to self-medicate. She also loved music. Cat. My life… I’d like to think I would have but… I don’t have your heart. One she’d managed to handle without freaking out. Just a meal with a friend. “and I was hoping maybe we could get tickets? I’ve never been to a concert and I really want to see this band. “You have a huge heart. If the guy wasn’t an Etruscan god. I’d love to see the band. Cat had been content to talk about anything but. But you’re helping me learn to control it and. “Sure. I love Synyster Gates. you do. I’m so grateful. You’re teaching the son of the woman who kidnapped you and made your life a living hell. family and magic the entire time. the sound attracting the notice of several men sitting on the far side of the room. her mouth snapping shut as it occurred to her that her life had taken an irrevocable turn into the Twilight Zone. not exactly. I think they’re finally starting to understand that I’m not going to go wild and turn into a wolf in front of a crowd. “Why would anyone be afraid to be your friend? You’re not exactly dangerous. The guy is gorgeous. but Cat had broken through that wall too.” “Yes.” Cat shook her head. I don’t know that I would have. “You would have done the same for me. you’re halfway to forgiving Grace Bell because you 98 . You didn’t know me before. the better. she’d read him the riot act for playing with her friend’s emotions. The other girl’s quizzical expression made Evie smile and she reached across the table to take Cat’s hand. not wanting to upset Cat’s mood. “Have I ever thanked you for being unafraid to be my friend?” Cat laughed.” “Yeah. “Evie?” She blinked and refocused her gaze on Cat’s face. Or zap someone into a frog accidentally. never one to give hugs and kisses freely. not with family.” “No. Well.” Cat said. Evie couldn’t remember the last time she’d been out to dinner with a friend.” Evie nodded. She’d— She blinked. her cheeks turning red. I don’t know what I’d do without your friendship. She’d never been a touchy person. I don’t think Mom and the dads will have a problem with us going.” Cat’s expression went deadly serious. Not on a date. I am. Heck. “So Avenged Sevenfold is coming to town.

“Maybe he’s busy. “No. “Hair growth? Really?” She shrugged. That was stupid. And. then even gods can be idiots. And kept looking. skeevy ones. But they never make you frown like that.” Okay. “He hasn’t come to see me in weeks.” Unfortunately. You’ve got two alpha males panting for you.” “No one who knows you would ever call you stupid.” Her mouth quirked into a bitter twist. who wanted to tie themselves to a recovering addict with magic-management issues? Still… “They’re not panting for me. Evie knew that. And what do you know about alpha males anyway?” Cat shrugged and a little bit of the light leached from her eyes. you know it never ends well when humans and gods mix.” Cat’s mouth pulled into a flat line.” A little flash of color flushed Cat’s cheeks and she bit into her bottom lip.” “Yeah. “I do not. really. You’re one of the smartest people I know and if he doesn’t see that.Moonlight Temptation know she was only doing what she thought would save her son. Cat. Cat had her there.” She didn’t know what to say to that.” “Or maybe he just got bored with me. “I have two for my dads. it does. “After all.” Her smile failing. Cat nodded. And that sucks. And I don’t know what I did. except. I’m just a stupid teenage girl. Two men who cared for her was two more than she ever thought she’d have. I’m not trying to pick on you. It’s every woman’s dream.” Evie could barely hear Cat but she knew who the girl was talking about. “Yeah. you’re beautiful and every last one of the guys in this place gave you more than a passing glance when we walked in. isn’t it? If you’ve read any mythology.” she drew the word out to three whole syllables. “So aren’t there any nice mortal boys for you to date? Maybe one who has more than his share of hair growth?” Cat’s smile widened. “you’re falling in love with two guys who you have eating out of the palm of your hand. please. But that doesn’t mean you should let him win. that’s why your mouth is like that. I just… They just aren’t…” “Who you want to be with.” Shaking her head. Cat clutched at her hand and those blue eyes went wet. That was a stupid thing to say. Cat. Dane would let you put a leash on him and Ryan would walk across burning coals for you. Cat.” Evie sighed. Because. You’re young. Crap. “Yeah. she began to pull away. “And that’s the real problem.” 99 . there’re a couple. I’m sorry.” “Your dads love you to death.” “Oh. “I’m not frowning. We’ll just ignore the older.

And then he’d tell my dads.” she huffed. The odds are in your favor. “So are you going to take your own advice? I saw the bag you packed. He’s always seemed like such a tight ass but he’s never been mean. He would so kiss you back. Each time. Just kind of buttoned up. Sighing. “Could you just imagine his face if I did that? He’d probably read me the riot act. Kyle and Dan treated Cat like any beloved daughter was treated by her father. I’ll still be the only seventeen-year-old girl in Berks County who’s never been kissed.” “Why?” Evie just shook her head. Cat. tomorrow night.” “Or maybe he wants you so much. Evie couldn’t believe Kyle or Dan didn’t see it but then maybe they didn’t want to see it. you kiss him. Maybe I should just be looking at this as a fling. Cat released Evie’s hand to lift her espresso for a sip. Are you planning to stay with Dane and Ryan tonight?” “I haven’t made up my mind yet. I mean.” “So the next time you see him. Lord of the Silver Light. And who could blame them? All those myths about gods typically involved sex. he doesn’t want me enough.Stephanie Julian The flush on Cat’s cheeks deepened even as she laughed. It just didn’t help her make what seemed like such a huge decision. “You know. “If you want him. he had to bring his best friend in so he wouldn’t have to feel obligated to me. But none of that changes the fact that. “Doesn’t matter anyway. I say go for it. but he’s still a man. Cat had been there. So much so that it was obvious he wanted to pay her a hell of a lot more attention. let’s.” Evie had met Tivr.” “Tinia’s teat. Know what I mean?” Yes. Like spun glass. And with Ryan gone. he’s a guy. Nothing’s ever going to happen between us. only a few times since she’d moved in with the Etruscans. Again. When she placed the cup in the saucer. maybe I’m thinking about this the entirely wrong way. the rattle revealed how shaken she was. And the guy had been way too careful about not paying her too much attention.” “Yeah. he’s so interested. “Yes. one girl. She figured neither Dan nor Kyle wanted to even think about their daughter having sex. Dane’ll stay away from me. I don’t know. much less with a deity. 100 . she knew what Cat was saying. he doesn’t know how to express it. And there’s no way he’d tell Kyle and Dan. They deliberately overlooked the fact she was seventeen and in love with a god.” “Cat. Dane’s never been good at dealing with emotion. I just need to give it up. Besides. And that man would give his left arm to kiss you.” Which would leave her alone. Ty may be a god. Ryan will eventually have to go back to his practice in Philly.” Cat just shook her head.” “Why? That seems like a no-brainer to me. I just feel like even though he wants me. Two hot guys. I’ve never seen Dane interested in anyone before.

you bastard.” “Evie wouldn’t do that. “I’m sure she and Cat have a lot to talk about. searing anger he hadn’t felt in years. “Who the hell else would I be talking about?” “What’d your mom have to say this morning?” Ryan didn’t actually expect Dane to answer. Or at least dig into his chest to look for one. It made his hands curl into fists at his sides and every muscle in his body tense with the need to tear out Dane’s heart. Dane.” “Are you still seriously thinking about mating Ione?” Dane didn’t answer and Ryan felt heat move through him. a vicious.” Dane finally turned from the window.” “I’m not calling her a coward.” 101 . “I told her to have a good time in New York. “I think you underestimate your power over those guys. Dane looked almost pained. She’s not a coward. Ryan was no lucani but even he could sense Dane’s agitation and it was beginning to affect him too.” “Or she decided to go home and didn’t bother to tell us.” Dane stiffened and didn’t turn from the window. It threw Ryan completely off track.” Cat’s wry tone made Evie look up from her examination of the table. All this emotion zinging around her body was making her nauseated anyway. he realized it was only five minutes after the last time he’d looked. “I don’t think we’re talking about Evie anymore. “But maybe you should just go for it and worry about the consequences later. I’m just saying.” Ryan heard something in Dane’s voice that made him turn off the TV and give his full attention to his friend. maybe everything’s happening too fast.Moonlight Temptation And maybe that would be a good thing. “I told my mother there was no chance for anything developing between me and Ione. He’d thought Dane would probably tell him to fuck off then continue to obsess over Evie. What the fuck are you doing? You’re going to hurt her and I’m going to tear your throat out. “Damn you. his expression lacking the snide arrogance Ryan had been expecting. It seemed like hours.” ***** “How the hell long does dinner take?” Ryan tore his gaze away from the television long enough to see Dane stop by the front window for what had to be the hundredth time and look out. Looking at the clock on the DVR beneath the TV.

Ryan knew if he slugged Dane. and he deserved more from Dane than he was getting. the guy would go down. He saw nothing in the dark. I don’t even know the question. “I could ask you the same thing. “I didn’t realize I needed to vet my every decision through you. “I thought I was going to have to sedate Alex when he got back this afternoon. “She’s coming. But they were more than friends. maybe more. He’d never had to. I take it her session with the boys went well?” And that was Dane telling him to back the fuck off. Even so. But he knew it wouldn’t do any good. for Christ’s sake. shook his head and turned back to the window. Ryan had learned the hard way that sometimes the only way out of a situation was with your fists.” 102 . Ryan had to stare up at him. isn’t it?” “So you wanna tell me what the answer is?” “I don’t know the answer. When the hell were you going to spill that little bit of information?” Dane just shrugged. “It went fine. which had never bothered him. what the fuck?” Dane snorted. Especially considering the role Dane was forcing him to play here. but he couldn’t fight worth a damn. damn it. Dane. I…” He breathed out a rough sigh. Dane was going to screw this up with Evie. He wasn’t his boyfriend.” “The question is what do you want?” Dane didn’t answer for a few seconds.” Gaze narrowing. Then he looked more carefully at Dane and saw the confusion and frustration in his eyes. shit. Which was stupid as all hell. He might be able to turn into a wolf. Ryan took a deep breath. God damn it. He was practically bouncing off the walls. Ryan wanted to head butt the guy to knock some sense into him. “Dane.” Ryan turned toward the window. He wasn’t Dane’s wife. reaching for calm and not finding much to be had. Since he was a few inches shorter. that’s a good question. “Yeah.” “Good. that had to be biting him in the ass. Until now. not even the flash of headlights but he knew Dane could hear the car from at least two miles away.” Dane turned from the window to look at Ryan. Ryan rose from the couch and walked over to Dane. Or at least loosen up just enough to talk to him. Ryan felt as if he’d been sucker-punched. Hell. The guy looked emotionally fried.Stephanie Julian Ryan opened his mouth to respond then shut it before he reamed Dane for something he hadn’t said. “You asked me what I want. And for someone like Dane. “Well.

Moonlight Temptation

The intensity in Dane’s gaze made Ryan go still. Did he have an answer to the question? No. Because he never let himself think about that question. “You’ve got the life you always wanted, don’t you?” Dane turned back to the window, as if speaking to his reflection. “Great job, even better money. You can buy anything you want, sleep with any woman you want. Yet you drop everything when I call.” Ryan stiffened, his muscles bunching taut. “You would have done the same.” Dane shrugged as if that was a no-brainer. “But why isn’t your life enough for you? Have you asked yourself that question?” Ryan’s lips parted to speak. Nothing came out. Dane’s mouth curved in a wry grin. “Not so easy to answer, is it?” Headlights flashed through the window as Evie eased her car into the space beside Ryan’s in front of Dane’s house. His heart picked up its rhythm until it beat almost painfully as he waited for her to get out and come to them. She didn’t open the car door for at least a minute and he had to wonder if she was stalling. Finally the door swung open and Evie stepped out of her little white VW Cabrio, only to lean back in a second later. When she finally closed the door of the car, she carried several shopping bags. And an overnight bag. Dane moved to the door and opened it before she hit the porch. Her tentative smile as she walked into the room eased the tightness in Ryan’s chest as he took the shopping bags and set them on the couch. “Hey, babe. Looks like you had a busy night.” Her smile widened. “Cat and I did a little retail therapy at the mall after dinner. Nothing like spending money on clothes to make you feel better. I got a couple of job applications while I was there. Can’t keep slacking off like I have been.” Dane shut the door and walked up behind her, taking the overnight bag out of her hands. “If you decided to continue teaching the children, you’ll draw a salary from there. Ryan said you had a good day with the boys.” She watched Dane set her bag by the hallway leading to the bedrooms before turning back to walk to her. When Dane bent to kiss her, Ryan watched how she lifted onto her toes to meet him, reaching out to clasp his shoulders. Her feelings for Dane showed in the way she clung to him, the way her body bowed into his. And Ryan had his first taste of jealousy. It licked through him like a flame, hot and bright and—
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Stephanie Julian

Fuck no. No way. He didn’t do jealousy. Not with Dane. Oh yeah, you do. But what are you really jealous of here? He watched Dane bend her back even farther, watched the way her fingers flexed into his shoulders and her breasts rubbed against his chest. She arched into him as if she couldn’t get enough, her mouth opening for Dane’s tongue to sweep in, the long line of her throat exposed. She looked oblivious to everything but Dane. Ryan wanted in. And that was the answer to Dane’s question. This was what he wanted. He wanted to belong here. The realization sent a shiver of reaction down his spine even as his blood pressure began to rise. And his cock hardened. Closing the few steps between them, he put his hands on Evie’s shoulders and bent his head to the nape of her neck. Nuzzling aside her hair, he opened his mouth on her skin and sucked her flavor into his mouth. She moaned and when Ryan stepped closer, she wriggled just enough to make him understand she wanted him to come closer. He gave her what she wanted, which was exactly what he wanted. Ryan plastered himself to her back and let his hands caress down her sides to her waist. He felt Dane’s hands working on her blouse, so he went to work on her pants. The formfitting material felt like sleek silk and the button on the side of the pants released with only a push. Then he released the zipper. The pants were so tight, he knew they’d need help coming off so he dropped to his knees and dragged them over her hips and down her legs. She wasn’t wearing stockings and he loved the look of the black-patent stilettos on her feet. So he left them. The bare skin of her ass made his breath catch as he realized she was wearing a thong. The tiny string of black satin curved around her waist and another disappeared between her cheeks. He couldn’t help himself. He plucked at the second string, drawing it away from her body and watched as she shuddered in reaction. She moaned aloud and he realized Dane had removed her shirt and bra and bent to suck a nipple into his mouth. Moving to the side so he could watch, Ryan saw her lift one hand to cup Dane’s head and hold him to her. With her other, she reached for him. While she couldn’t grip Dane’s hair, she could his. She let her fingers slide through the strands then grab and hold.

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His breath caught at the thought that, even though she writhed under Dane’s hands, she still reached for him. Yes, this is what I want. As she tugged on his hair, he let his fingers slide between her legs. Moisture slicked her lower lips and he coated his fingers in the silky heat. He could smell her arousal and the scent made him hunger for more of her. Not yet. First they needed to show her exactly why she should stay with them. Convince her this was where she needed to be. Always. With one hand on her hip to hold her steady, he used the other to tease her clit. Light flicks that had her gasping. Her entire body trembled as he and Dane worked her between them. Her clit heated and hardened, her scent intensifying. Her thighs tightened, trapping his hand between them. He’d just released her hip to use both hands to open her legs when Dane stepped back. “Ryan, bring her.” As Evie blinked up at him, in shock over Dane’s abrupt release, Ryan rose to his feet and spun her toward him. He kissed her with a hard resolve and felt like thumping his chest when she melted against him. Wrapping his arms around her, he lifted her off her feet. Her pants slithered to the floor, shoes dropping with a thump. Damn, he should have told her to keep those on. He forgot the thought a second later when she wove her fingers through his hair and pressed him even closer. Her mouth opened for him, welcoming his demands for her total surrender. Lifting her higher with one arm under her ass, he waited until she wrapped her legs around his waist and laid her head on his shoulder before he walked past Dane to the bedroom. He felt Dane behind him but Dane stayed in the doorway when Ryan took her to the bed. Ryan followed her down, pressing his mouth to hers. He couldn’t get enough of her taste, the way her mouth moved under his. So sweet and hot. His emotions tangled with his rising heat, his needs becoming more demanding. He devoured her mouth as his hands swept over her body, caressing her breasts, molding them with his hands. Pinching the tips, he made her writhe beneath him. His already aching cock pressed against the zipper of his jeans, seeking relief. When her hands slid from his shoulders to his back, his skin heated and burned with the light caress.

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toward an emotion he wasn’t ready to acknowledge. he saw her head fall back on her shoulders as she sank onto him. gripping the hem of his shirt and pulling it up his back and over his head. Before he could work the zipper. I’ve gotta be in you. Her nails scraped along his skin. And she looked like a goddess above him. “God damn. Evie. The tight grip of her sex on his cock made his balls tighten and threaten to explode too soon. God damn. And yet… “You’re so fucking beautiful. sending erotic sizzles shooting through him.” Her eyes opened to glittering slits as she did as he asked. That’s what I want.” Her eyes fluttered open as she continued to ride him. And when she started to ride him. He’d only met her two days ago. With her eyes closed and her full lips parted. In the pale light spilling through the open door. she drove him beyond lust to something deeper. she felt so fucking good. he bit her earlobe then strung a series of biting kisses along her neck as he lowered himself against her. When she slung her leg over his waist. Evie. he reached for her hips to help guide her to his cock. Evie scooted back so she could sit. driving him up to his knees to unbutton his jeans. They each drew in a deep breath as her breasts pressed against his chest. “Take it off.” Her voice whispered against his skin. Ryan.” “Yes. She smiled as she put her hands on his shoulders to brace herself as she leaned forward until her lips were only centimeters from him. his head kicked back into the pillows. faster now. His lips curved in a smile as she worked his jeans and boxers down his legs then threw them over the side of the bed. On your back. “Lie down.Stephanie Julian And when she stroked to his waist and slid her hands beneath his shirt. slow and steady. Then she rolled her hips and took him in. “You make me feel like I am. Her lips parted and she moaned his name. Dropping his head to her shoulder. please. She was as anxious as he was. she’d grabbed his shoulders and turned him until he had no choice but to fall on his back on the bed. her hardened nipples poking into muscles. he shuddered. I want to feel your skin against mine.” Her husky tone made his hands shake and before he could move. wrapping her hands around his shaft to make it stand up straight.” 106 .

He watched her watch Dane. Her hips began to move again. watched the play of muscles in his jaw as he slid his tongue into her mouth. he took his time. But she couldn’t wait. She could only feel. A movement out of the corner of his eye made Ryan turn to see Dane watching them from the doorway. The hooded gaze and tight jaw belied his seemingly casual position against the doorjamb. Dane wanted to join them but Ryan knew he wouldn’t unless specifically requested. But it was a good pain that heightened her sensitivity everywhere. the skin smooth under his. her body trembling above him while he tried not to thrust hard and fast. Felt that same anticipation spread through him as Dane stopped by the side of the bed. opened the top drawer and retrieved a tube of lubricant before he wrapped his hand around her neck and brought her to his mouth for a hard. she felt the brush of Dane’s muscled thighs against her ass. The pressure bit into her like teeth and held on. Heat rolled through him as Dane broke the kiss to move onto the bed behind her. Ryan caught her mouth as she settled against his chest. Evie could barely think as Ryan kissed her and Dane’s body crowded behind her. The mattress shifted as Dane straddled both Ryan’s and Evie’s legs as he pushed her down to Ryan. And respond. But Ryan swore Dane’s mouth actually curved into a smile for a brief few seconds. swallowing her gasp as Dane prepared her to take both of them. Then Dane slid one lubricated finger inside her ass. So did the bulge in his jeans. She had to move. the tickle of his hair sending whispers of sensation that made her pussy clench.Moonlight Temptation She dropped a light kiss on his lips even as her sex clasped his in slick heat. His fingers dug into her hips. Especially when Dane tunneled two fingers inside her ass. She felt Ryan’s forced stillness as he waited for some sign from Dane. When he did move. saw the anticipation in her expression. tiny lifts and descents that made Ryan groan and his fingers grip her almost painfully. 107 . Evie had paused. at the growing desperation. She turned with a smile and curled her index finger at him. the muscles sleek. shedding clothes as he came closer. He didn’t obey right away. Ryan was about to motion for him to come to them but Evie beat him to it. She moaned at the sense of fullness. As she moved. He watched Dane’s hand cover her breast and roll the hardened nipple between his fingers. Ryan watched as Dane’s mouth covered hers. blistering kiss.

” The soothing tone of his voice eased her tension and she did as he told her. Dane continued to forge forward until he’d completely lodged his cock in her ass. she wasn’t sure she could live through it without burning down the house. 108 . Ryan’s straining body was slicked with sweat. never having had anal sex while another man was lodged in her pussy. “God damn it. But she wasn’t about to tell Dane to stop. his fingers tight. scalding her as he moved her to the rhythm he set with Ryan. hot tip of his cock began to press against the tiny opening. as if they controlled her passion. in every breath he took. Beneath her. As soon as Dane had filled her completely. she felt the heat coming off Dane’s body. That biting fullness in her body began to morph into a pleasure so great. She tensed. Dane. Which made the men react with brute passion. And when Ryan growled. This will feel so fucking good. She latched on to his mouth and thrust her tongue against his.” She felt a short. His hands on her cheeks kept her spread open for him and the brush of his pubic hair against her most sensitive flesh sent hard shivers coursing through her body. Evie. changing the angle of Ryan’s penetration enough to make him groan. They fucked her with total command. sharp orgasm flare through her. until one hand sank in her hair and pulled her head back enough for him to kiss her. And what a feeling. The pressure as he breached her was almost too painful to bear but once he got the head inside. She tasted Ryan’s passion in his kiss. blinding her and making her cry out. She wanted this so bad but didn’t have the words to tell him.Stephanie Julian Her pussy clenched around Ryan as she lifted her ass higher toward Dane. torn between the throbbing beats of the two cocks inside her. And maybe they did. he stopped and let her adjust to the feel. Relax.” Dane breathed in her ear as he leaned against her back. But he couldn’t move enough to fully thrust and Dane had to help him move her. And when they started to move. “Don’t tense. Push back against me. matching the rhythm of his thrusts against her. Dane put his hands on her ass and spread her cheeks then the blunt. fucking hurry. her body pulsing with fire. sweetheart. Come on. her brain flickered and shut down as her body let them take over. Filled to the limit. “Easy. Ryan began to withdraw. Dane’s hands had moved to her hips. Sensory overload made her a creature of pleasure. his movements carefully controlled. Behind her. his hands moving from her waist to her breasts.

bared as Dane wove his fingers through her hair and lifted her head. racing in her veins as if searching for an exit. Gasping. She’d lose control. to burn her to ash. her brain concentrated on containing that fire until it slowly banked to embers. she couldn’t let it. she wanted to release that fire but somewhere in the pleasure-soaked reaches of her mind. I won’t allow them to be hurt. she released a shaky breath then let sleep take her under. While her body shuddered. no. lose— “Yes. “I want to feel you tighten all around me. softer but no less forceful. No. commanding her to obey. that heat would hurt Dane and Ryan. Clinging to Ryan. she knew if she lost control. baby. Evie. No. “Do it. she felt Dane pull out then curl around her back. Those flames wanted to consume her. Flares of heat engulfed her. 109 . making both men groan as she tightened around them.” Her body obeyed. making her gasp as Ryan broke the kiss to press his mouth against her throat. Now. “Come. Feeling as if she’d overcome a hurdle. She came with a frission of heat that made her convulse almost painfully.” Ryan’s voice.” She couldn’t. blinding her to everything but the fury of her orgasm.” Dane’s voice was a shotgun blast of desire.Moonlight Temptation That magical otherness burned through her.” “No. They licked along her skin. She needed to pull back— Dane thrust hard against her. or dodged a bullet. combined with her climax and prolonged the ecstasy.

Dane had said this morning when he dropped her off at the community building with Ryan. Mikey’s mom. she hadn’t been surprised to find out they were related. are you okay?” Mikey’s lisp-accented words drew her out of her head and back where she needed to be. no harm no foul? How did they feel about her? How did she feel about them? And would she always have to fight to control her gift? “Miss Evie. And so much like Dane. ruffling his baby-soft brown curls. In the few short hours she spent with the three boys. Cousins. “I liked those. And then she’d thought about what that would entail. There were just so many questions she didn’t have answers to. Her very own class. And she really couldn’t think about that now. She had to focus on the boys. “I’m fine. After speaking to Mikey’s and Jason’s parents after class yesterday. Close proximity to Dane five days a week. she’d learned Alex loved math and science to the exclusion of all else. She wished he’d find somewhere else to work. a couple places removed. Ryan had taken his laptop across the hall to the lounge area. “Why can’t we just play those games again?” Jason looked at her with big. they’d decided mornings worked better than afternoons for everyone involved. After last night. Jason hated math and Mikey wanted to sit in a corner and read Captain Underpants. had even made a not-very-subtle hint that she would love to see the boys have a full day of classes. she still had no idea what to think about their unconventional relationship. She couldn’t look at him and not think about last night. where she could see him through the window in the classroom door. Miki. dark eyes. Jason looked older.” 110 . Like… How long was Ryan going to stay? He had a job and a home and a life in Philadelphia.Stephanie Julian Chapter Eight “Miss Evie. Evie’s heart had done a little happy dance.” Though a year younger than Alex. She gave the blue-eyed boy a smile. Just thinking about something. What happened when he returned to it? Did they just go their separate ways. can we do those math problems you told us about yesterday?” Evie smiled at Alex’s enthusiasm just as much as she did at Jason’s groan.

which had drawn Alex to him like a moth to a flame. Mike. my man.” Evie gave her a squeeze as she pulled the game she wanted from the shelves. “Are you sure you’re okay with me being here?” Cat asked as they got to the cabinet.Moonlight Temptation “About what?” Jason asked.” “No lessons of your own today?” “Nah. “Jason. “Thank you. if Miss Evie says it’s okay. Jason helping Alex maneuver the wheelchair while Mikey moved chairs away from the table to make room for the wheelchair at the table. that problem’s solved. When she motioned for her to come in.” 111 . Cat said. she picked him up with a smile and gave him a hug before setting him back on his feet.” Evie said. “Cat! Have you come to play games with us?” When Mikey walked over to her. The teacher who’d stocked this room before her had done it with an unlimited pocketbook and every educational game Evie could have wanted was in this closet. “I was having a little trouble trying to get Mikey involved but with you here.” Cat followed her to the cabinet as the boys moved from their desks. “About games?” Jason’s shaggy dark hair fell into his wide eyes as he grinned.” Evie didn’t try to hide her smile.” Jason’s expression went slack with disbelief. Would you read with me?” After a quick glance at her. I think I’ve got a game we can all play that everyone will like…” A knock at the door made Evie turn to see Cat waving at her through the window. “Why don’t you guys go sit at the round table and Cat and I will bring the game. but obviously not around Cat. “I think Miss Evie wants you to give the game a try but I could stay and play too. They made quite the pair. the dads and I were supposed train but Dad caught a meeting with Cole and Daddy Dan got called away to New Jersey to fix some problem at one of the clubs. How are you?” “I’m fine but Jason and Alex want to play math games and I’d rather read. “Hey.” Cat gave her a hug too then blew out a sigh of relief. “What about math games?” Alex chimed in. “I don’t want to disrupt—” “I’m actually glad you’re here. she can. dude? That would be awful. Evie swore she could see the devil in that smile and he smiled a lot. “That would be fun. At seven. Mikey’s such a sweetheart. the boys turned as well and Mikey’s smile widened. “Are you kidding. “Can she?” “Of course. I used to babysit for him when Miki still worked in the city last year. he was the youngest of the boys and the shyest.” Mikey’s face lit up at the prospect.

“Mikey. as if he wouldn’t notice them if they were quiet and still. dressed in a dark suit and black shoes. average looks with average brown hair.” She looked over her shoulder to see where Cat had gotten to and felt her heart stutter at the girl’s expression. He let his gaze travel around the room with a dismissive gaze. but his career in the navy had kept them apart for months at a time. “What—” “Shh. She took the game to the table and began to set it up. no uncles. 112 . Yes. With Ryan and Dane and Cat and John and Kaine and a werewolf king. When his gaze lit on her. especially after their mom died a couple of years ago. life was weird and strange and. she heard Ryan yelling and she opened her mouth to call to him but she couldn’t force the words to leave her mouth when a man walked through the blown-out door. She and John had always been close. Her little family of four had been tight growing up as a child but both of her parents had been only children. “Evie!” From across the hall. “Everybody. But her skin crawled and she automatically moved to shield the boys. And then she’d been kidnapped… Her gaze strayed to Alex who was smiling and looking even better than he had yesterday. A growl echoed from the other side of the room and Evie knew Cat had shifted into her pelt.” Cat’s whisper barely reached Evie’s ears but she recognized the watchful stillness in the girl’s expression. sometimes completely fucked up. She had no idea who he was. no aunts. No cousins. only aging grandmothers on each side who’d died when she was young. get away from the—” The wood door splintered outward just as Evie sprinted for the boys. she shivered. Mikey whimpered and clung to her leg while Jason and Alex froze. But she belonged here. Just another guy you might see on the street and never look at twice. The man was average height. She hadn’t known Dan had a hand in running them. She’d never seen him before.Stephanie Julian Evie knew part of the lucani-held businesses included a string of nightclubs along the east coast. As if nothing impressed him. intertwined in each other’s lives to a degree Evie had never encountered in her life. And goddesses and gods and little pointy-eared dwarves who made amazing food. The lucani and the streghe were tightly knit groups. She wanted to belong here. Jason and Mikey had immediately dropped to the floor and Jason was in the process of helping Alex off the chair and under the table by the time Evie reached them. Cat will be your partner and Jason and Alex can be partners.

But it was pretty damn obvious to Evie that he’d come to take Alex. The guy had power. He stood in the doorway with his gun pointed across the hall. “I don’t know who you are or how you got in here but you need to leave.” Another set of hands clutched her other leg. The man ignored her. a curiosity not worthy of his time. wanted to make her crawl under the table with the boys and cower. thick and black. You need to leave immediately. It oozed against her own like slimy mud. gun pointed directly at Evie. Fury made him want to lunge for the door but the guy with the Ruger pointed at his head would have no problem shooting him if he moved the slightest inch. He reeked of it. Take the wolf too. Mal. She noticed another man behind Alex’s father. if necessary because he’d brought muscle. “Alex. twice. Cat had to be able to sense the man’s magic. she forced herself to stand her ground.” The man looked at her as if she were a talking bug. And another two times just after he heard a wolf growl. Directly into the lounge area where Ryan had been sitting.Moonlight Temptation “What do you want?” she asked. this one dressed in military tactical. her voice as shaky as her hands. By force. She’s the one Grace has been using. 113 . Which he fired point blank. ***** Ryan heard the kids scream as the distinctive sound of a tranquilizer gun went off. The guy had dead eyes. Instead. “Alex is not going anywhere with you. Leverage is never a bad thing. come out where I can see you. Evie and Cat was in for a vicious surprise. Freakishly awesome power.” The man finally gave her an assessing look before dismissing her and focusing again on the boys beneath the table at her feet. Come out here.” Another man in black slipped through the doorway. She knew Alex’s father was Mal but Dane had told her he’d had nothing to do with Alex since he’d been born. low and mean. Fear raised her heart rate. Once. I’m your father and you will obey. “Alex. I can sense her magic tangled with Alex’s. signaling the girl to stay back. he spoke to the other man over his shoulder. Ryan was surprised he was still alive. “Take the girl. But whoever was taking Alex. Turning his head.” Cat’s growl from behind Evie warned her that the girl was about to attack but Evie waved her hand behind her back.

***** Dane ran flat out. Evie.” “They’ll never find me. Let’s go. there was blinding pain. he saw movement from the other room. he was one of the first to arrive. Dane bent to give them a superficial exam before ascertaining that they were okay. And Ryan was pretty damn handy with a gun. but both boys had tears running down their faces. “They’ll kill you. And Ryan slumped to the floor. Dane.” Jason had his arms wrapped around Mikey protectively. Call Margie and get her and Ronia here right now.” He stood. I have to check on Ryan and I want you two to stick close. Ryan braced for the blow he knew was coming. Then pitch darkness. “We heard the alarms—” “Someone took Evie.” Ryan said. “Come with me.” John froze.Stephanie Julian The lucani wouldn’t stop until they’d gotten them back. they took Miss Evie and Cat and Alex. He’d been in the middle of formulating more of the serum for Alex when the alarm at the community building began to sound. He looked Ryan in the eyes as Ryan memorized his face. If the guy made one wrong move… Through the doorway. Alex and Cat. A second guy followed with Cat’s wolf in his arms. If the dogs obey. The guy had to know what he was doing and didn’t care. fear plain on his face as he relived his worst nightmare. Then a man in an expensive black suit walked out with Alex in his arms before he stopped in the doorway. “Dr. He didn’t even move when the door burst open again as Kaine caught up with her mate. “I know. “Ryan! Evie!” He ran for Ryan but had to turn into the classroom when he heard crying. we’ll return it relatively unharmed. He saw a man put his hand over Ryan’s forehead just before he disappeared. “Tell them I’ll kill the wolf if they attempt to follow. 114 . what the hell’s going on?” John Simmons nearly broke the front door as he shoved it out of his way. the weapon never wavering. When it did. behind the man with the gun. pulling the boys to their feet as well.” “Dane.” “You have to know you’re a dead man. Since his lab was only yards from that building. thrown over the shoulder of another man in black.” Gun Man walked straight at Ryan.

his pulse.” Kaine didn’t hesitate to follow his order. lifeless. “I don’t— Dane. But after only a few seconds. “If you have a strega strong enough. “I’m fine. “Shit. Evie and another child. “Where is she? What the fuck did you do with my sister?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Dane felt his skin tighten. you can do a blood tracking spell. Dane was already kneeling next to Ryan. “Vaffanculo. her face pale and her eyes wide in fright. Fear rose in his gut but he forced it back. Ryan—” “They took the girls and Alex. you have a better nose than I do. John had confronted a terrified Grace. make him sloppy— Ryan’s eyes opened as if he’d been sleeping. His heart.” “I’m fine. Relief crashed through Dane with the force of a hurricane. They’ll be able to track Alex that way. Please…” Grace shook her head.” Ryan shook off Dane’s hands. It would only hinder his examination. his lungs. “If not. have your lucani tracker bite me. by the time they got there. dark and bitter smelling.” John’s eyes widened for a brief second before he turned and ran for the door. we need to get over to the holding facility.” 115 .” Her voice had become flat. “John. yet with none of the grogginess. Do you know where he took them. We need to get Kaine here to track—” “She’s already here.” He turned to herd the boys out into the hall but realized they were no longer behind him. Several other lucani were also gathered there but Dane only needed one. And John finally pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. Raised voices came from the hall as more people arrived. I don’t know what they did to you. Dane and Ryan couldn’t keep up with him but the building wasn’t too far away and. The low rumble of John’s voice didn’t compute as he tried to figure out what had been done to Ryan.Moonlight Temptation “Kaine.” Ryan propelled himself to his feet. Dane. gods damn it. Their parents had arrived and were comforting them in the hallway. Ryan. Dane stepped closer to catch her when she passed out. don’t move too fast. she opened her eyes again. We need to talk to Grace right now. shaking his head as if to clear it. though she took a second to squeeze John’s arm before her clothes disintegrated around her as she became a sleek gray wolf. what’s going on?” “Alex’s father took Alex. the two little boys standing very close to his side. calm down and let me examine you. Grace?” Her eyes fluttered shut and her face blanched so pale. Use it. He scented only the faintest whiff of magic on the guy but it was Mal magic. “We’ve got to—” “Whoa. all fine.

The Mal have strongholds in Tampa and Miami. “If you don’t find them there.” “He’s Alex’s father and he’s only powerful enough to teleport seven people inside of a certain geographical area. “A daughter. Grace. “And he probably used the Reading Airport to fly into. the amount of information this woman had been able to acquire scared the shit out him. She thought I’d be useful breeding Mal since I’d failed to be born one. “After my daughter was born. Dane forced back a horrified curse. “I’m sorry. I went to work for my parents in New York City.” She just shook her head.” A flush of color began to stain her cheeks as she reached for Dane’s hand.Stephanie Julian “You know we can’t do that—” “There’s one local connection you should check into now. her voice eerily calm. I haven’t seen her since the night she was born with the caul that marked her Malandante. I’ll give you the addresses of buildings I know are affiliated with the Mal but you won’t find Alex there. check in Florida. I believe. When he wasn’t…” She shook her head and Dane had the feeling he knew exactly what happened to her when Marrucini wasn’t around. Daniel Bonnini was affiliated with Ettore Marrucini’s holdings. “My grandmother gave me to Marrucini when I turned nineteen. Tinia’s teat. My apartment was paid for by Marrucini and he visited when he was in town. 116 . “Ettore wouldn’t have contacted her but he may have taken Alex and your females there to prepare them for transport elsewhere. “Before he disappeared two years ago.” John left at a run as Dane knelt down to check Grace’s vitals. “You have another child?” Grace’s chin lifted and he saw the sheen of tears in her eyes that she quickly blinked away. After I conceived the first time.” she continued. I understand Bonnini’s holdings have been taken over by his niece who.” Dane’s jaw dropped before he could catch it.” “Who the fuck is this Marrucini and why the hell didn’t he just use magic to take them wherever they were going?” John asked. has a strong connection to the Etruscans here in Berks County. The pallor of her skin scared the shit out him.” As Ryan paced like a caged cat. Marrucini moved me to Florida. It’s smaller and easier to avoid questions and pay off employees for favors.” She continued on. “He disappeared them right the hell out of here fast enough. I was allowed more freedom. I have no idea where except that it was on the Gulf Coast. “When I got pregnant with Alex and blood tests confirmed the baby was his. he—” “The first time?” Dane shook his head as if that would make the sentence make a little more sense. though most of the businesses are run out of New York.

Whoever those men were. she was afraid she’d burn the entire building down. using the techniques her brother had taught her to calm herself in stressful situations. To listen.” Evie had opened her eyes about five minutes ago. then she. She might go for the jugular of the first person to step through the door and get herself tranq’d again. She knew that because there was a clock on the wall. After all. She reached for her pocket. 117 . Damn. No furniture. Marrucini told me he’d found another breeder who was more ‘proficient’. Dane. I’d provided at least one Mal child. He’s all I have left and I don’t trust anyone else with his life.” ***** “Cat. Cinderblock walls. Her own head still felt fuzzy but it was clearing more every second. No cell phone. The only problem was. Cat snuffled but still didn’t wake and maybe that was for the best. “Please. It’d taken her several minutes to tamp down the fear that wanted to choke her. Catene. that man will dissect Alex if he thinks he can make a profit from it. One sturdy wood door with a tiny window at the top. Dane. That anger sat in her stomach and boiled her blood. what the hell was this place? And where were the men who’d taken them? Closing her eyes. she used all her training to focus. She and Cat lay on a clean blanket on a dirty floor. Whether the time was correct was debatable but if it was. Cat still wore her pelt. He’s special. And anger was taking its place. Where was Alex? For that matter. Alex and Cat had only been taken a half hour ago. He put me on a plane back to my parents and they gave me a generous trust fund. She was fucking sick and tired of being a goddamn pawn.” Now the tears started to fall. You’ve got to get him back. No windows. But finally.Moonlight Temptation “After Alex’s birth. they better fucking hope nothing happened to Alex or Cat. she’d managed to sit up and look around the room without screaming in fear. And there’s so much about Alex you don’t know. Damn it. “He said he would never acknowledge Alex so I was free to keep the child if I wanted. She was breathing a little heavy but Evie thought that might be due to the tranquilizer.” “Grace—” “You’ve got to find Alex. wake up.” Her mouth bent in a bitter sneer. Because Evie had enough juice to fry them right now. Cat.

Still. But she had to be smart. She knew the lucani would come after them. Literally. She’d found enough last night with Ryan and Dane. It had to be Alex. And spitting mad about not being able to go after Evie with them.Stephanie Julian At first. It’d only taken John and Kaine fifteen minutes to put this operation together and Ryan was impressed as shit. An element of surprise would be nice. He was a liability. Two older males and one younger. indistinct but getting louder. slimy.” She couldn’t hear what they were saying. Whoever had taken them knew they needed her to keep Alex healthy. swallowed her fear and followed that back to the source. He had no combat training. Her brother would be right behind them. Moving Cat so the wolf’s body was shielded behind her. she’d burn their ass. She knew it in her gut.” John practically growled. Her men wouldn’t sit on their butts and let others save her. Frustration began to rise but she dismantled it before it could shatter her concentration. ***** “Do exactly as I tell you. she heard nothing but Cat’s wheezy breathing and the hum of electricity running through the walls. She could do it now. They were just too damn far away. But did they know she could wield her own magic? She hoped not. They’d come.” Ryan nodded as he retrieved Dane’s go-bag from the back of John’s Jeep. She latched on to that. And Dane and Ryan would be by their side. “and stay the hell out of the way. Felt someone else’s magic. Dan and Kyle would tear down cities to get their daughter back. “Damn it. cold magic she’d felt before. Although traffic raced by on Route 183. John had managed to find a parking lot not far from Reading Regional Airport off a side street in a deserted industrial mall. could sense the presence of other people. Now she just needed some control. 118 . Evie sat directly facing the door. She had to have a plan. She knew they weren’t alone. If anyone tried to separate them. With a huff. Alex. That dark. she opened her eyes and stared at the door. he understood why John didn’t want him along. Her fury fueled her magic. And Evie had to be ready. There! Voices. And it felt fucking great.

Dane’s wolf growled. “Cam’ll teleport us into the building after Stella and Cam confirm our targets are in there. all of it muscle. But when a man built like a linebacker who had pointed ears too unusual to be simply abnormal materialized out of thin air. He was rank and file lucani legion. The other man… Ryan had no idea who the hell he was but he wouldn’t want to run into the guy in a dark alley.” Cam de Feo shrugged it off then held out his hand…for the pretty blonde woman who materialized at his side. Tattoos decorated the back of his shaved head and neck and probably the rest of his body. Ryan. Dane and John and his team would get the girls and Alex back. though that was covered by the same black tactical gear worn by John and Seth. He reminded Ryan of Sylvester Stallone without the movie-star polish and he thought John had called him Race. which he immediately lowered when the tank disguised as a man materialized out of thin air behind him. Cam didn’t stop for introductions. God damn it. Cam.” Ryan nodded again. He couldn’t let himself imagine any other outcome. he loved Evie. Seth Lucini barely opened his mouth. Dane was going.” John slammed a gun into the harness on his back and checked the knife on his belt. “Cam and Stella de Feo will be here in a minute. They’re getting ready to move. Beside him. “Shit. except to say yes and no. Ryan had seen some freaky shit in his life. Ryan knew one of the men by name. gun in hand. Sorry. You snuck up on me. And so did Dane. We’ve got to go now. he was going back for EMT training. like John and Kaine. “We have no idea what they tranq’d them with so—” John spun. The guy had brown hair. that made him question his sanity. his fur bristling as he sniffed the air.” “You saw Evie?” John asked. “Stella and I already checked out the building. he would. and only if a head motion wasn’t enough. Six-four. Maybe even medical school. Hell. And they weren’t going to lose her. two-hundred-thirty. And he damn well wasn’t going back to Philadelphia.” When this was over. Because. “And Cat and the boy?” 119 . he watched Dane turn into a wolf. They needed his nose because they needed the other two lucani who’d accompanied them to hold guns. brown eyes and features that allowed him to blend into a crowd. He wasn’t sicari. you stay out here. at least. ready to treat any injuries. Apparently none were needed. “I will be.Moonlight Temptation After this.

watching the fight. We can’t wait. looking for a break. but apparently it was long enough to trip whatever security Ettore Marrucini had set up. When he finally released her. It didn’t take long. Then Cam grabbed Seth by the arm and laid a hand on Dane’s neck. Race and Seth followed close on Kaine’s heels to engage the four men at the end of the hall. And this was no peck on the cheek. We heard the men talk about moving cargo so they’re still here. It took every ounce of his legendary patience to sit quietly on the floor and wait for Cam to transport the rest of the team into the building. He growled. maybe thirty seconds. And standing between Dane and Evie. We found an empty room to stage but we’ve got to go now. “Kaine!” At John’s shout. 120 . ***** Dane could smell Evie and his wolf wanted to race out the door and kill anyone in his way. Marrucini’s men were waiting for them. A hail of bullets nearly cut him to shreds before Race threw out his hand and the guns jammed. racing up the hall toward the men who’d tossed their guns aside and drew knives.” John nodded.” Cam nodded then bent to kiss his wife. Kaine blew by him. John had engaged a guy who didn’t look to be more than twenty years old. even in the frosty chill of the air. Because when John cracked the door to slip out into the hall. And when he snapped the kid’s head back with a jab that bounced him off the wall. goodbye kiss. she smiled and Ryan swore he saw heat flare between them. Dane saw his opening. but they’re in there.Stephanie Julian Cam shook his head. He thought he’d be able to squeeze by and find Evie. And they were gone. even though he was still on his feet. Dane followed. But Marrucini’s men had them bottlenecked and they fought with deadly fury. “No. Evie’s scent calling to him. With the element of surprise lost. Seth already had blood on his face but the guy who’d hit him looked a hell of a lot worse. “Then let’s do it. This was a full-out passionate embrace that no one seemed to think was inappropriate for the situation.

his paws sliding on the polished vinyl floor. She didn’t hesitate. She nearly buckled under his weight and Ryan ran over to help her before they both fell. knocking Dane sideways. past the battle. She’d have to thank Cat when they got out of this mess. just ahead— A blast rocked the building. using his nails to steady himself then he took off running because now he smelled heat. and headed for the door. 121 . And watched as wood splintered outward. surprisingly heavy for such a small animal. when she was sure he wasn’t going to get up. And he knew Evie had just joined the fight. Evie was up there. He skidded to a stop. burning the door into ash and knocking the man who’d been on the other side into the wall behind him. Fire. He had to find Evie. Turning the corner. He slumped to the ground and. she picked up Cat’s wolf. She let her rage fuel her magic until it practically burned her hand. Heard the click as he loaded the dart then the snick of the lock disengaging. Because it’d been the sounds of fighting in the distance that had made her begin to create the little ball of fire now sitting in her hand.Moonlight Temptation He raced up the hall. ***** “Cam!” Ryan turned from watching the building for any sign of movement and saw Stella grab for Cam. one of them Mal. where he also smelled another two men. he followed her scent up the next hall. Huh. He scrambled to keep on his paws. Then she threw it with every ounce of her strength at the door. Just a little farther… The man who’d shot her in the neck with the tranquilizer dart was behind the door. Ready… The door opened and Evie lifted her hand. She heard him through the wood. ***** Bastard. She didn’t think. Guess all that training really did help. Kaine snapped at his tail as he ran by her but wouldn’t stop.

122 . which he couldn’t have done anyway unless he shifted. Frigid. what about Alex? Where’s Alex?” He didn’t stop to answer her question. He followed the smell of smoke. Which they didn’t have time for.” Ryan looked at Stella. which had obliterated every other scent for the moment. “Please tell me you can drive a stick?” She nodded as she buckled Cam into the middle row of the Navigator. Dane’s medical training caused him to pause and sniff the man.” Ryan ran back to the Jeep and peeled out. The man forgotten.Stephanie Julian “Get him into the back of the truck. He dropped to the ground. shards of burning wood surrounding him. he saw a man sprawled on the floor. “Dane. “We need to drive down there to pick them up. Around another corner. “Whatever wards they put on that building. But he didn’t have to rely on his hearing to find Evie. A spell. We have to go to them. Evie’s agonized cry the last sound he heard. Where he saw a man holding Alex in one arm lift his other and point. The scent of cold air tinged with airplane fuel made him take the next turn.” Cam said. Unconscious. the high-pitched whine fucking with Dane’s hearing. There had to be another exit. “Absolutely. he howled at her then nudged at her leg with his muzzle to head in the opposite direction down the hall. praying to whatever gods were listening that they weren’t too late. He should— “Dane!” He spun to see Evie walk through the now-empty doorway. Cat’s wolf groggy but awake in her arms. ***** The fire alarms screeched. I’m not going to have enough juice to get them out. The blinding pain was like nothing he’d ever felt before.” Ryan had already started to drag them both toward the Lincoln Navigator John had driven his team in. He and Dane had driven separately in Dane’s Jeep. Behind them. the sounds of fighting continued and Dane wasn’t taking the chance that Marrucini’s men were winning. Powerful. they fucking drained me. He forced her to keep going. Cold as ice. Cam looked pretty fucking bad and John knew the guy wasn’t going to be making any more trips inside that building.

“Shit.” He nodded. His heart pounded out a hard rhythm.” John carried Dane’s wolf in his arms.Moonlight Temptation ***** Ryan had just pulled to a stop at the rear of the building when he saw a man get into a black Mercedes. let’s go. Kaine. he saw no one in the hall so he ran. over a hundred pounds of dead weight. “Ryan. “Evie. “Get in the car and stay there. No one appeared to be chasing them but they didn’t slow down. Then they both maneuvered into the backseat with Dane between them as John drove them home. Then he saw Evie run from the building. the gun shoved in his jeans. he heard Stella screech to a stop in the Navigator. “John. He knew how to use it. slamming on the brakes and turning the wheel so the car came to a stop inches from Evie. Behind him.” She let him pull her close. But the sound of footsteps approaching him made him pull into a shadowed doorway and wait until he realized he knew the voices. 123 .” John headed for the Navigator where he laid Dane on the back seat as Stella moved into the middle with Cam and Kaine jumped in as well.” He had the gun in his hand as he ran for the door Evie had exited. Race and Seth followed behind with Kaine at their heels. “Race. His first instinct was to block the car from leaving. It’s Ryan. Dane’s been hit! You have to go back for him.” Ryan took the bag Evie had retrieved from the Jeep and caught the wide-eyed fear on her face.” he called before he stepped out into the hall. And he would. Alex in his arms.” “Are you okay?” “I’m fine but Cat’s still groggy from the drugs. Ryan. Ryan couldn’t tell if the wolf was breathing. “It’ll be okay. Opening the door. It’ll be okay. if he needed to. you have to get Dane. let him press a kiss to her temple as she wrapped her arms around him and clung for several seconds. a small black wolf in her arms. he drove straight for them. Turning. you and Seth take the Jeep with Cat.

Stephanie Julian

Chapter Nine
“This spell isn’t like anything I’ve seen before. It feels…cold,” Margie said. “Almost metallic.” Nica Belludi nodded as she held her hands above Dane’s body. “I’m not sure what to do with this. I’ve seen Mal magic before. This is different.” As the boschetta’s healer, Nica had a Goddess Gift that allowed her to heal through the touch of her hands. Evie had believed she could fix anything from broken bones to internal bleeding. “Are you telling me you can’t help him?” Evie heard the tears in her voice and drew in a deep breath as Ryan pulled her back against him. She didn’t want to cry. Not now. They had to fix Dane before she’d allow herself a good cry. Nica frowned as she turned to Evie, shaking her head so hard her dark hair fell over her shoulder. “No, I’m just saying this could take me a while to figure out. And I’m afraid if I do something wrong, it could trigger something else. The spell’s complex. And it’s so damn cold. It’s like laying my hands on the tip of an iceberg.” “And that’s what’s making his core temperature fall, this spell?” Ryan’s hands clenched her shoulders, almost tight enough to hurt. Nica nodded. “But I’m afraid if we try to warm him through conventional methods, we may set off another layer of the spell. We need to find a way to bring his temperature back up before hypothermia sets in. I think that might be the way to combat the spell.” “Like…burn it out of him?” Margie turned to give her an assessing look before nodding slowly. “Yes, just like that.” Ryan’s eyes met hers, dark with worry. “You can do this, Evie. I know you can.” Such faith. But did she believe? Evie didn’t know much of anything at the moment. She only knew she wanted Dane to wake up. And she had the Goddess Gift of fire. Behind her, she heard John take a deep breath and release it slowly. “Evie…” She turned, expecting to see John shaking his head. But she saw only steady trust in his expression. “Be careful but don’t falter,” he said. “We’ll be right here for you. I’ll be right outside the door, Evie. You call for me, I’m here in a second.” She nodded, unable to speak. His belief in her went a long way to believing she could do this.

124

Moonlight Temptation

After a final nod, John looked at Margie, who gave her a brief smile then waved Nica ahead of her as they walked out the door. Kaine reached forward to squeeze her arm before she slid past John and disappeared, that same trust in her eyes that she saw in John’s. John stepped toward her, his arms circling her shoulders for a brief, tight hug before he turned to Ryan. “You’re staying?” “Yeah.” John stared some more but Ryan held his gaze. “Don’t let anything happen to her.” “Not on my life.” Evie didn’t see John leave. She’d already turned to Dane, lying so still on the bed. Their bed. She had to keep that in mind. It would ground her as she fixed this. Fixed him. They couldn’t lose Dane. She crawled onto the bed next to him, her knees touching his side, her hands on his chest. God, he felt so cold. “Ryan, could you…” She didn’t know what she needed until he stepped behind her and put his hands on her shoulders. Then she closed her eyes and let the fire take her.

*****
An hour later, Ryan pulled the covers over an exhausted Evie as she lay next to Dane on the bed. Ryan had just told John and Kaine he’d call them when Evie woke. He didn’t really expect that to be until the next morning. Kaine had pulled a reluctant John away to get some sleep after she’d made Ryan a mug of hot chocolate. He hadn’t known how much he loved the stuff until he’d had Kaine’s. It tasted like sweet ambrosia and he swore she must have put a tranquilizer in it because he actually thought he might be able to sleep now. Dane was still out cold, though his core temperature continued to rise. Slowly. Whatever Evie had done to combat the spell seemed to have worked. But it’d wiped her out. Ryan wished Dane would wake the hell up. What if he’d sustained brain damage from the prolonged drop in his core temperature? What if she hadn’t managed to burn out all of the curse or spell or whatever the hell the guy had infected Dane with? What if he never woke up? Every fucking awful possibility paraded through his head until it ached.

125

Stephanie Julian

He thought about following the hot chocolate with a few shots of Jagermeister, just to help him sleep. But he wanted to be coherent and ready if either of them needed him. At the moment, he felt pretty fucking useless. At least while Evie had been helping Dane, he’d been providing literal support, his arms around her shoulders, his chest against her back. He swore she’d drawn energy from his body as she’d worked on Dane. Now… He sighed, looking over his shoulder at the chair on the other side of the room. He really wanted to sit. But…he needed to call Dane’s mother. And he needed to check on Cat. Margie had put her in Dane’s spare bed on the other side of the hall. The girl had still been in her pelt when Ryan had sent John and Kaine home but Margie had told him that was to be expected after the high level of tranquilizer they’d used on her. Still, he couldn’t sleep until he’d seen Cat. Dragging toward the door, he left it ajar so he’d hear if either of them called. Or whispered. Or moved. When he pushed through the door into the spare bedroom, he stopped when he realized Margie wasn’t the only one in the room with Cat. A lanky teenage thug sat on the edge of the bed. The kid had tats running up both arms, his short, dark hair spiked in every direction and his jeans looked as if they’d been run through barbed wire. He didn’t look up at Ryan but Ryan knew the kid had heard him enter. “I told Margie I’d wake her when Cat opened her eyes.” The kid’s voice sounded ages older than he looked, husky and weary. “But…she won’t. Not even for me.” It was on the tip of Ryan’s tongue to ask who the hell the kid was, but Ryan heard fear in the boy’s tone and he moved to the bed. “Damn it, why didn’t someone come get me?” He moved to the other side of the bed, his veterinarian training taking over as he started to examine Cat. “I was just about to. I thought…” The teen shook his head. “What do you need?” “I need my bag from the front room. I’m afraid she’s slipping into shock and having a reaction to the drugs. Damn it, why the hell didn’t I see this earlier?” Because he’d been preoccupied. “Hey—” He turned to find the teen gone, only to have him reappear in the doorway seconds later with his bag. “Thanks.” “What do you need me to do?” Ryan opened his bag and started pulling out what he’d need. But he spared a look at the other guy and saw fear in his pale gray eyes. Since he had no idea who the kid was, he’d been about to tell him to leave but thought better of it.
126

” Turning toward the door. he could eat a horse. He had a feeling this guy would too. Both seemed normal. Here’s what’s gonna happen…” ***** Dane opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling of his bedroom. coherent—” “Gio checked her out last night. Vaffanculo. He said she’s fine.Moonlight Temptation The guy obviously cared for Cat and if anyone had ordered him out of the room when Evie had been healing Dane. Is Evie okay? Did something happen to her?” Ryan shook his head. His stomach hurt but he put that down to hunger. She faced away from him but relief at the sound of her easy breathing made him weak. he saw Ryan leaning against the doorjamb. you scared the fucking shit out of us. he would’ve fought tooth and nail against it. A soft sigh caught his attention and he turned his head to see Evie lying next to him. He wore boxers and nothing else and he needed to drink about a gallon of water.” A wry grin curved Ryan’s mouth as he shook his head. Dane. Dane frowned.” The sense of relief that hit him felt like a ten-ton weight had been lifted from his chest and he let himself lie back for a few seconds before sliding to sit on the edge of the bed. Jesus Christ. She looked to be sleeping soundly. The guy looked as if he hadn’t slept in two days. “You’ve been unconscious for thirty-six fucking hours and you’re already giving orders. 127 . Whatever spell the guy put on you. How fucking boring was that? He really needed to think about bringing some color into his life. “Come over and help me get a drip going… What’s your name?” “She calls me Ty.” Hell. her color good. Blessed Mother Goddess.” Thirty-six hours? Dane paused to take stock. His hand automatically went to check her pulse and her temperature. Pristine white. You need to sit down before you fall over. she fixed it. I guess you’re feeling better. No muscle aches. “Finally. He turned back to look at Evie. “Are you feeling okay? You look exhausted. Ty. Thank you. “I’m hungry.” “Okay. “And she’s okay? She’s been awake. “She fixed you. No headache.

Ryan. what the hell did he say to that? How did he make Ryan understand that it wasn’t only Evie that wanted him to stay? 128 . hands jammed in his pockets. I’m fine. I want you to stay here. “And what about my life in Philly? My job? My teaching position? Am I just supposed to give those up because you want me to warm your back at night? We both know Dane’s it for you.” Ryan just shook his head. “Evie. Everything’s going to be fine. “I’ll just give you guys a few min—” “No. Not for reassurance. Vaffanculo. Vaffanculo. “That’s not how this is going to work.” Dane’s mouth fell open at Ryan’s matter-of-fact statement. But Kaine’s already got a plan.” “Yes. saw nothing on his expression that said he didn’t absolutely believe what he’d just said.” “Shit. But the strength in her voice was unmistakable. Don’t you dare. he and Grace were going to get along like fire and gasoline. come in here. “That’s not how this is going to work. she looked so damn young.” Ryan tipped his head back. Kaisie Giliati was the lucani’s finest tracker. “I’m not an invalid. “Dane.” He turned and opened his arms to her.” She took a deep breath and glanced up at him. Ryan—” “Dane?” Evie stirred and rolled over.” Out of the corner of his eye. sweetheart.” Ryan’s expression didn’t change but Dane saw something light in his eyes before he doused it fast.” Ryan continued. What happened to Alex?” “Marrucini took him. her eyes widening as she saw he was awake.” Whoa. I’m just the toy you find on the bottom and forget after a few hours. His chest tightened with anticipation. She called in her dad. I—” “No.” With her hair tousled and her eyes still a little blurry with sleep. you do. He heard no trace of teasing. closing his eyes as she practically leaped into his arms and held him tight. They weren’t messing around. he saw Ryan turn to leave. Dane swallowed half of it before he gave Ryan a dirty look.Stephanie Julian Ryan apparently read his mind because he told Dane to stay put and returned with a cold bottle of water that he opened and handed back to Dane. “Ryan. “You can’t start this and then take it all away.” Ryan leaned back against the doorjamb. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. But he had no love for the Mal. He’s the Happy Meal. “Evie’s upset.” Evie’s head popped off his chest. “Hey. She was staking a claim. I don’t want you to go back to Philadelphia. “John said they’re still not sure how Marrucini found the boy but Kaine’s confident her dad can find him.

Not even the stunned hurt in Evie’s eyes was enough to get him to reconsider. He set her on her knees on the bed and tore off the rest of his clothes. waiting. making her step back. “There’s always been a place here for you. I don’t want you to ever doubt that. I don’t want to lose either of you. And you need us because you will be fucking miserable in Philadelphia without us. he lost the smile and lifted her into his arms. staring at them. He could only imagine Evie felt just as bad. flattening against his stomach then moving to the button on his jeans. he saw the sheen of tears in them. 129 .Moonlight Temptation Evie stilled in his arms before taking a deep breath. Into Dane’s arms. He glanced down and got caught in the stormy gray eyes of the woman he loved.” Ryan kept his gaze on Dane as Dane put Evie between them. as if Ryan had wounded her somehow. Ryan stood there. Evie threw her arms around his neck and clung to him as he stepped forward. since you asked so nice…” With a muffled squeal. if not worse. pulling Evie with him. He’d head back to Philly tonight because there was no way he could stay. That the lucani need your skills as a vet. Ryan saw Dane’s eyes narrow and figured this was it. He was about to turn when Dane got off the bed. Which just proved why he needed to leave.” He lifted his hands to cup her face and draw her to his mouth.” Ryan’s mouth had already started to curve into a smile when Evie wound her arms around his waist and pressed herself against him. If I hadn’t had my head up my ass for the past few years. Dane felt as if Ryan had stuck a knife in his gut. Evie’s hands slid under his t-shirt.” When her gaze turned back to Ryan. “Your friendship keeps me grounded and I need that. “I love you. Ryan.” Then she turned to Dane. He was an idiot. Neither of them realized why he couldn’t stay. For what? Shit. I would’ve realized that we need you here. And that I need you here just as much as Evie needs you. Ryan smiled against her lips as her fevered motions made his body respond with a surge of lust. “Well. “And I love you. When he felt Dane’s hands sweep her underwear down her legs. Hell. I need both of you here to make my life complete. He kissed her long and hard and felt her melt against him. “Please don’t leave. Shit. Evie needs both of us to love her.

she moaned and tried to entice him to go faster. caressing the tips into hard little peaks. just enough that Ryan could position her slit directly over Dane’s cock then let her slide slowly down the shaft. As Dane lay back on the bed. Craved it. he practically fell over his feet to join them. her knees on either side of his hips. Ryan breached her with a groan. But when she arched and moaned. Love. His hands cupped her breasts as Dane’s hands grabbed her hips. Dane filled her.Stephanie Julian Dane had a head start on the clothes since he was only wearing boxers and was already lifting Evie’s shirt over her head when Ryan began to strip out of his jeans. Dane had his hands on Evie’s breasts.” 130 . coaxed her to open to him. Apparently Ryan was just as hot for her because he wasted no time fitting his cock into the tiny aperture and pressing forward.” “Love you. Evie. filled her as Dane’s mouth played with hers. By the time he was naked.” “Always. Dane urged her forward. stretched her tight around him then pulled her down to kiss him. lifting her until she was facing Dane. Evie. hot and all-consuming. She knew what was coming. Ryan turned her. echoing the one Dane gave when Ryan began to fill her with every inch he had. she looked wanton. “I love you. And so beautiful he would have been content to watch Dane slide one hand between her legs and play with her clit. With her eyes closed and her mouth parted. Evie opened her eyes to see Ryan toss his jeans aside and kneel on the bed in front of her. And when Ryan began to spread the cool gel along the entrance to her ass.

His brown hair fell in a tangled mass below his shoulders. she flew toward it. And his green eyes blazed with a terrifying intensity. And I just became your new best friend. expecting Kyle.” he said. “I understand you want your kid back. He’d told her they were bringing in their best tracker and he would find Alex. She couldn’t lose Alex. He had a full beard and mustache that looked as if it had never seen a razor. He’d promised they would find her son. If she did… Life just wouldn’t be worth living. And she would allow her grandmother to fulfill her promise to “put her out of her misery”. Kyle had told her the lucani would go after Alex. “I’m Kaisie Giliati. Otherwise she would go crazy.Moonlight Temptation Epilogue Grace Bellasario paced her room in the lucani holding facility. It’d only been twelve hours since he’d been kidnapped and she’d told Kyle everything she knew. When he finally trapped her gaze with his own. she grew more frantic. she thought she might just go crazy after all. Or maybe Dane or Duke or Nic. Life without Alex would be misery. trying not to let the fear and the anger drag her down into the depths of despair. As she froze. Obviously there was no news and. He’d said he’d tell her the second they had news. She very nearly hurt herself trying to stop when a man who looked as if he’d just returned from a six-month trek through the jungle with no access to baths or razors stepped in front of her.” 131 . he closed the door behind him then let his gaze dissect her from her own disheveled hair to her bare feet. So when the door opened to her room. as each second ticked by on the clock. She had to believe it.

About the Author Stephanie Julian is an avid reader who used to have a book-a-day habit. Tell Us What You Think We appreciate hearing reader opinions about our books. . she’s got her fingers on a keyboard. the sexier the better. strong women and a heaping helping of magic dominate (and she does mean dominate) her blazing hot stories.com. her butt in a chair and her head in the stars. she’s. And she only cooks when her guys complain that they’re hungry (ain’t cereal grand!). Hot men. Stephanie welcomes comments from readers. You can email us at Comments@EllorasCave. well…she’s certainly not cleaning. Romance has always been her first love.ellorascave. Then she realized she not only wanted to read books but write them too.com. When she’s not writing. You can find her website and email address on her author bio page at www. Otherwise.

Also by Stephanie Julian Lucani Lovers 1: Kiss of Moonlight Lucani Lovers 2: Moonlight Ménage Lucani Lovers 3: Edge of Moonlight Magical Seduction 1: Seduced by Magic Magical Seduction 2: Seduced in Shadow Magical Seduction 3: Seduced and Ensnared Magical Seduction 4: Seduced and Enchanted Magical Seduction 5: Seduced by Chaos Magical Seduction 6: Seduced by Danger Magical Seduction 7: Seduced by Two Size Matters Print books by Stephanie Julian Magical Seductions: Shadow Magic .

www.Discover for yourself why readers can’t get enough of the multiple award-winning publisher Ellora’s Cave.com .ellorascave.com for an erotic reading experience that will leave you breathless. Whether you prefer e-books or paperbacks.ellorascave. be sure to visit EC on the web at www.

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