Series: Lunar Mates 2
Couple: Tara Burke & Trey Williams
Published: September 25, 2016
After spending his life hunting rogue werewolves, Trey Williams is looking forward to a quiet retirement in Haven, Alabama. But between hunting for the local rogue wolf and claiming his newfound mate, Tara Burke, that peace doesn’t last long. Can he find the mysterious werewolf before it endangers his new mate?
Tara knows all about werewolves and she doesn’t want one, thank you very much, but there’s no denying the heat that flares between her and Trey. Can she use her gift for witchcraft to break the bond between them? And does she really want to?
This is a re-release. It has been revised and expanded.
The house was in the forest a few miles from the closest town, Haven, Alabama. It was a cozy little A-frame with a wide porch on back. Lying hidden in a dark, back corner of that deck, the sleek, black wolf lifted his head, letting the conversation drift out around him. Two women chatted peacefully inside, one small and curvy with rich brown hair. Meg O’Reilly was the pack alpha’s mate, and in his absence the pack watched over her, especially here in her own home, isolated as it was. The wolf had come to like her. She was fiery and strong and giving Darius a run for his money.
The other though…she was an enigma.
Tara Burke was not his type. She was average height, too skinny, and had weird spiky, wine-colored pixie hair. But since he’d first seen her, he was obsessed. He’d decided she was the perfect height, not average at all. She’d fit so snuggly tucked under his arm. And skinny? No, she was long and sleek, and he longed to feel her legs wrapped around him when he stroked deep into her.
She had the face of a pixie with her delicate upturned nose, funky hair, big eyes, and sharp chin. Then there was her scent. The wolf edged towards the door, breathing deep–cinnamon and chocolate and something that vaguely reminded him of baking bread. That scent was going to be the death of him. She smelled of home and stability, and things a man and wolf like him had no right to dream of.
Darius had been gone for two weeks. Trey had spent that time hunting for a rogue wolf, guarding Meg O’Reilly, and also watching over Tara Burke. The rogue continued to evade him, frustrating him with his seeming invisibility. Though it appeared he had stopped stalking their people, Trey’s gut told him not to let his guard down. He’d learned that lesson the hard way.
As he watched, Tara stood and carried something to the sink, pausing to stare out at the night. If he weren’t so well hidden, he’d swear she looked right at him. His mate. He felt the truth of it deep in his marrow.
He shook his head. The lack of sleep was surely driving him insane. He was turning fanciful. Thank God, Darius was due home any minute, and that after work, Tara had headed straight for Meg and safety. With a rogue wolf on the loose, he was glad to see her using her head and avoiding spending her evenings alone. He was looking forward to some down time tonight.
When she spoke to Meg though, he silently cursed his luck.
“It’s nine already,” she sighed. “I need to get going if I plan to get any sleep tonight.”
So much for the down time. He quickly shifted and reached for the cell phone and clothes he’d tucked in the nearby shadows. He wasn’t taking the chance of leaving either woman alone. His call was answered on the first ring.
“Randall, I need you to watch Meg,” he ordered.
“On my way,” the man answered without hesitation.
Once dressed, Trey stepped into the light spilling onto the deck just as Tara turned, lifting her hand to her throat. Unfortunately, she was afraid of him, not just his sudden appearance outside the door. He didn’t want things to begin between them this way, but he had no time to make unobtrusive arrangements. There was no way he was letting her travel the dark country roads alone. He stepped inside.
Meg turned and smiled in question, obviously wondering why one of the werewolves was suddenly making his presence known. A brief half-smile in response was all he could manage before his gaze unerringly returned to Tara.
He saw her several days a week, often making excuses to stop by her place for coffee, trying to ease her into relaxing around him. But always, as soon as he walked through her door, she tensed, apprehension in her pretty blue eyes. His intensity put a lot of people off, but the stab of hurt he experienced that his own mate feared him surprised him.
A pretty blush spread up her neck, the pulse beating wildly on her throat. Maybe he’d given her too much room. There was wariness in her gaze, yes, but something else she tried to conceal. Interest. She stepped back, breaking free of his stare, and looking helplessly at Meg, who jumped in to introduce them.
“Tara, have you met Trey Williams yet?” She turned and winked at him. What was she up to? She knew they’d met, had seen him in the bakery. “This is my cousin, Tara. She owns the bakery downtown.”
“We’ve met,” he replied.
“Yeah,” Tara answered in a fake cheery voice. “Well, I need to be heading out.” She cast a suspicious look at him and turned to Meg. “You gonna be okay?”
Meg laughed. “I’ll be fine.”
Reaching out, Trey grabbed Tara’s arm as she stepped toward the door. He was surprised at the shock of recognition and lust that jolted through him at the touch of her skin and couldn’t resist tugging her closer. With every sense focused so acutely on her, it would have been impossible to miss the way her breath caught in her throat, the way her tongue darted over suddenly irresistible lips. Meg’s discreet cough was the only thing that saved him from claiming the mouth that had been haunting him for weeks in an aggressive kiss. He reigned in his hunger and slid his hand down her arm to capture her fingers.
“You can’t leave yet,” he said softly, noting the change from lust to anger darken her eyes. It was fascinating. Everything about her captivated him.
He let her pull free, though he had to fight every instinct to do so. She stepped back only to find herself brought up short by the tall counter that separated the kitchen and living areas. The compulsion to follow her was irresistible and he didn’t even try. He followed, pinning her between two bar stools. She had nowhere to retreat. Her nostrils flared in anger, and she leaned around him to see Meg.
“Can’t you do something about this oaf?”
“Um, probably not, no.” Meg laughed, moving to a front window as car lights swept the room.
“That’ll be Randall,” he said, looking down at Tara. “As soon as he’s settled, I’ll take you home.”
“I don’t think so.”
Palms flat against his chest, she hesitated, then pushed him away. His blood heated at her touch, and he almost didn’t give her the illusion that she had control of the situation. His wolf side was clamoring to claim her, here and now, willing or not.
A second set of headlights flashing through the room divided his attention. He had made only one phone call.
“Stop!” he barked at Meg as she reached for the door handle. In a few quick strides he positioned himself between her and the door while she looked up at him, startled. He nudged her away.
“Go over there with Tara. Let me see who this is.”
He waited until she was across the room, then eased the door open in time to see Darius sending Randall off. Opening it wider, he moved aside for Darius and retreated back to Tara’s side.
“Darius,” Meg said in a voice filled with welcome as she rushed across the room.
Trey watched, jealousy eating at him as the big man, his friend and alpha, swept his mate up in a fierce clasp. He wondered what it would take to get Tara to greet him like that. Even as an observer, the kiss was searing and he looked away.
Automatically his gaze sought her out, also watching the lovers and gaping in disbelief at her cousin. Amusement broke envy’s grip. Her gaze snapped to him, and he enjoyed the flush that rushed over her skin. He started to reach for her when he heard Darius’s humor filled voice behind him.
“Trey, I seem to remember you saying you weren’t going to lose your head when it happened to you.”
He shot Darius a cautioning look followed by a slight head shake. Tara was still in the dark about what they were, and her role in his life. It was obvious Darius took the hint when his eyebrow arched in disapproval. Trey ignored him. He was used to going his own way.
“Are you ready to go?” he asked, reaching for her keys.
“What are you doing?” She looked between his face and her keys, and held her hand out. “Give those back. Please.”
Sighing, he laced their fingers together. “I’m taking you home. Get over it.”
He wondered if he could get away with taking her to the house a mile down the road that he’d just bought, but one look at her drawn face convinced him not to try. She may feel something between them, but she obviously wasn’t happy with it.
“Meg will vouch for me. I’m perfectly safe,” he said, trying to look innocent.
“Sure you are,” she answered, a grin tugging the corners of her lips when Meg nodded. With a heavy sigh, she pulled free of his grasp, and picked up her bag.
“Let’s go then. I have to be at work at three and the night ain’t getting any younger.”