Wolf Tales VII
Romantic Times "Top Pick" for July 2009!
"This is the hottest Wolf Tales yet! Fans of the series will be thrilled to see all of their favorite characters together - in bed and out - and there's just enough backstory to satisfy newcomers to the world of the Chanku. Although this book features more external danger than steamy bedroom/forest action, the sex scenes are well worth the wait and offer a variety of scenarios, including bondage, toys and male/male intimacy. Douglas really knows how to turn up the heat!"
Reviewed for Romantic Times Magazine by Rhomylly Forbes
Heat rating O
"Kate Douglas is one of my favorite authors and I adore her Chanku shape shifter books...Wolf Tales VII was one of my favorite Douglas books!"
Reviewed by Marcy Arbitman for Just Erotic Romance Reviews
"This is a terrific entry on the Wolf Tales saga as the ensemble comes together from two coastal locations and Colorado to gather in the fourth pack’s enclave in Montana yet the adults contain differing personalities. That is the marvel of Kate Douglas’ erotic fantasy as each adult Chanku remains unique...fans will relish this exciting Chanku tale as the packs assemble to deal with a dangerous threat..."
Rated 4 1/2
"...WOLF TALES VII, is outstanding! Kate Douglas keeps getting better, and better. Bringing all the packs together was brilliant! The sexual tension is running at an all time high and it was great catching up with all my favorite characters. Each turn of the page brings danger closer to a heart stopping ending that had me in tears. The story is gripping and the sex is hot! This is one book I couldn't put down, until the end."
© Kate Douglas 2008
Rocky Mountains, Montana
Night was all around him, and the darkness complete, but he sensed he wasn't alone. It was unbelievably dark, considering his terrific night vision. He wondered, for a moment only, if he might be in one of the many limestone caverns nearby, but that didn't feel right. He thought of turning around, to see if he could see who or what waited behind him, but he couldn't move.
He tried to scream. His lungs expanded and his vocal chords strained, but he made no sound.
The voice in his head sounded smug. His own voice. Well, of course. Anton Cheval knows everything.
Well, crap. Was it possible to curse oneself?
Okay...so if I know it all, why the fuck are my arms trapped? Why is my heart pounding? Why can't I move. Why?
He fought whatever held him but fear exploded. Alive, a twisting, clutching thing and it made its own horrible sound. His sounds. Heart pounding, blood rushing in his ears, the loud whoosh, whoosh, whoosh drowning everything.
Telling him nothing.
My love! I can't move! His heart thundered, muscles strained. Nothing. Not a damned thing. I'm sorry...so damned sorry. I can't help you...
Scalding tears filled his eyes. They slid down his face. Hot, wet trails of frustration.
Lily cried. The terrifying sound ripped through him. The heartrending cries of a newborn, of his child! He fought harder, battled through the cloying darkness, struggled to reach out with arms like lead, tried to run with feet trapped in thick, grasping mud.
The screams grew louder, more frantic. He ran blindly, free now, but the very air surrounding him was impenetrable. Gelatinous, thick, clinging stuff. Someone had his family. Someone was stealing his mate, taking his child, taking everything that mattered.
Everyone he loved.
Gasping, Anton struggled harder, cried frantically for Keisha. Called out to Lily, but he couldn't run and he couldn't see and his world was ending.
“Anton? Wake up! You're dreaming. You're having a nightmare.”
He blinked, shocked into awareness, surprised out of cloying madness by the gentle glow of sunlight filtering through the window blinds. It seemed so much at odds with the frantic pounding of his heart. He took a deep breath, relieved yet unbelieving, to see the lovely face of his mate peering down at him.
He reached for her, ran trembling fingers along her silken cheek. “You're okay? Lily's okay?”
Keisha laughed. “We're fine. I was already awake or you would have scared me half to death, shouting like that. What were you dreaming?”
He shook his head. His body sagged back against the mattress as he realized his loved ones were safe. For now.
“It was nothing. I don't remember what it was.”
But he did remember and he blocked his thoughts, hiding them away from Keisha. He remembered all too clearly the dream that had awakened him.
Something about a cave niggled at his memory, but like everything else, none of it seemed real. Yet all of it was much too threatening.
It was the same dream he'd had, in one form or another, all this past week.
Someone wanted his mate and his child. Someone evil.
He was used to being a target. As the most powerful of the Chanku shapeshifters of the three known packs in existence, Anton was well aware of the risk of capture. There were those in the medical world who wanted his kind for study. Others in the government had hoped to create a secret army, breeding more Chanku to train and use for some unknown yet nefarious purpose. His race maintained secrecy as best they could, but enough humans knew the Chanku existed to make the threat of disclosure all too real.
It was one thing to worry about his own safety. Another altogether to worry about those he loved. He'd been entirely alone for so long. Then, in such a short span of time he, Stefan and Alexandra had formed a pack. His life mate, Keisha Rialto, had joined them, and Keisha had given him the ultimate gift of love, their daughter Lily Milina. Just as Stefan and Xandi had produced little Alex.
Anton had never understood the strength of the family bond. Now he knew it all too well. Knew how powerful it was, how all consuming.
Finally, he understood the meaning of unconditional love. Even more, he understood the fear of losing what he'd not had before, that deep, immeasurable love of family. It weakened him, made him vulnerable. At the same time, the love of his packmates, of his child and his one true mate, made him more powerful than he'd ever been.
His abilities as a wizard had grown exponentially. He'd developed skills over the past couple of years beyond anything he'd dreamed of, among them a more powerful sense of foreknowledge, an ability to sense what was to come.
The problem was figuring out if he was merely projecting his own neurotic fears into what should have been restful sleep, or was he having a valid premonition?
His premonitions had been frighteningly accurate, yet he'd had dreams just as frightening that were nothing more than dreams.
The secret lay in determining which was which.
His thoughts slipped back to the trip they'd all taken to Tia Mason and Lucien Stone's wedding in San Francisco, and the hijacking that had almost succeeded in ending their lives.
He'd worried about that flight for days. Had put his unease aside, assuming the graphic dreams were merely those of an overly concerned mate and Keisha's advanced pregnancy.
Then he'd come so close to losing her. So close to never knowing Lily, to never again holding his beloved Keisha in his arms.
Anton wrapped his fingers loosely around the back of Keisha's neck. He wondered if she felt his tremors. It took only a small amount of pressure to bring her close, to touch his lips to hers.
Lily slept on. The morning sun caressed Keisha's dark skin with golden fire as Anton slowly kissed her full lips, nuzzled the tender skin beneath her right ear. He twisted his fingers in the silken strands curling against her throat and drew her close.
She arched against him, her body supple and sleek in spite of the extra pounds she carried since giving birth. Her full breasts, heavy with milk for their daughter, drew Anton. He ran his tongue across one turgid nipple, tracing the taut edge of darkened areola.
Keisha moaned and lifted her hips, pressed her mound against his burgeoning erection. The sleek brush of her pubic hair tickled the underside of his penis where he was most sensitive and forced his shaft up against his belly.
He reared back and slipped his cock down between her slick folds, sliding over her clit with his entire length. Raising up again, he dragged himself slowly back and then surged forth at the same, measured pace, sensing her growing arousal with the increased heat and friction.
Keisha moaned. She spread her thighs and arched against him. With his hips maintaining a slow but steady rhythm, Anton's tongue lightly circled the darker edge at the base of her nipple. He pressed his lips around the swollen tip and flicked the sensitive nub with his tongue.
“Ah,” she breathed, laughing softly. “Be careful, my love. I'm really sensitive and my breasts are so full they ache. Lily's not fed for almost four hours. We could end up with a very big mess.”
He chuckled and gently ran his tongue around the taut curve beneath her right breast, then the left, careful now to avoid her tender nipples. Keisha's fingers clutched at the tangled bedding beside her hips and he felt the rush of slick fluids between her legs. The knowledge that she was so ready for him sent a new surge of blood through his loins. His engorged cock, already aching and hard, grew even harder, stretched even longer.
Her desire was a potent aphrodisiac; the evidence that she needed him every bit as much as he needed her. Raising his buttocks, Anton carefully positioned the sensitive head of his cock between her slick folds. He held still for a moment, savoring the heat and moisture, the soft clasp that teased him. Then he thrust forward, slowly entering her tight passage.
Amazing, he thought, how this rippling channel that clasped him so warmly could be the same passage their daughter had taken when she entered their lives. The same passage his seed had traveled almost a year ago.
Keisha enclosed him within her heat and sheathed him like a warm, wet glove, holding him tightly, drawing him forward.
Anton sighed. Nothing in his world felt better than this. Nothing.
Keisha raised her hips, inviting him deeper. Tiny whimpers escaped her parted lips when the head of Anton's shaft touched the hard mouth of her cervix. He held himself there, immobile, relishing the enduring warmth of his beloved mate, the tiny sounds she made that told him she was lost in desire, caught completely in sensation.
He was caught as well, preternaturally aware of her halting breaths, her beating heart, her desperately needy cries.
Then she shuddered beneath him and her thoughts grabbed his, sharing the pressure of his cock deep inside, sharing the ache in her breasts and the urgent yearning of her body for the friction that would take her so quickly over the edge.
She wanted. She needed. She must have more of him. More of his heat, more of the fullness, the thick girth and filling length of his cock. She wanted the pain that so quickly leapt into pleasure when the flared crown of his glans pressed against her cervix. The pressure inside when he filled her, then slowly retreated, only to fill her once again.
Anton began to move, thrusting deep and slow, driving the solid length of his cock over her swollen clitoris with each deliberate penetration. Her growing arousal fed him, her need increased his own. He felt the rhythmic clenching of her powerful vaginal muscles as Keisha reached for her climax. She arched her back, pressing him even deeper and he drove into her harder, faster.
Keisha cried out. Her fingers clutched his sides and her nails scored his back while Anton raced her to the next orgasm.
She won, shuddering beneath him once more. Her long legs wrapped tightly around his hips. Her heels dug into the hard muscles at the backs of his thighs and she strained against his lean torso.
Clinging to him, Keisha met him thrust for thrust. Anton wrapped his arms around her and reared back, carrying her with him. When he sat on his heels and felt the tight clasp of her vaginal walls holding him close, pulling him deep, their minds and bodies linked. Their thoughts blended into a single tortured flash of fire and light, and still he held on, still his hips thrust hard and fast against his mate...and his arousal grew, hot and demanding.
Anton groaned, caught on the precipice of climax. He buried his face in the silken curve of Keisha's throat. He was enveloped in her scent, her warmth, the salty dampness of her skin. He existed only in the firm clasp of her rippling sheath, the rhythmic plunge of his hips as he drove into her warmth.
Then Keisha nipped his shoulder. The stinging pain from her sharp teeth sent him flying over the edge.
A white-hot flash of pure, indefinable power rolled from spine to balls to rock hard cock. Burning a trail of pleasure so closely linked to pain, it coiled and struck him like a bolt of lightning. His body surged forward. He felt the hot blast of his seed and the familiar touch of Keisha's mind to his.
Lungs bursting, lights flashing behind his tightly closed eyes, he cried out with his release. Still holding his mate in his arms, Anton's hips continued their steady thrusting into her welcoming body. His heart opened to her love. His mind, all his thoughts and fears, were now an open book.
He could never hold a secret from his mate. No matter how hard he tried, in this she would always have power over him. Taking his seed into her body, she took his fears and his love into her heart. They fell together, collapsing against the thick comforter and tumbled sheets, their bodies still linked, their thoughts as one.
Keisha brushed the sweat-tangled hair away from Anton's face and kissed him softly on the mouth. Her tongue circled his lips and tangled with his for a brief moment, easing him down from such a mind-blowing climax. Her taste was ambrosia to him, the food of the gods, and it was his alone this morning
Just as his thoughts, his dreams and all his fears, were hers.
Keisha's lips moved once more against his mouth. She sighed, a soft sound of exasperation and love. “It was a dream, my love. When will you learn to share your worries? You have to learn to tell me your concerns, not hide them from me. We're mates. You're not meant to carry these unnecessary burdens alone. No one will ever take me from you. No one will take Lily. We are yours and you will always keep us safe.” Her fingers combed through his long hair. Her beautiful amber eyes glistened with tears. “We will keep each other safe,” she said, and kissed him once again.
He felt small and vulnerable, that she would try to shoulder his fears, but her thoughts laughed at his foolish notion. Keisha shook her head. Once again she kissed his mouth. Lily stirred in her crib. Anton rolled to his back, carrying Keisha with him. She raised up with her forearms crossed on his chest and her heavy breasts warm and damp against him.
He felt her turgid nipples where they met his chest, the press of her large breasts, solid with the weight of milk for her daughter. She kissed the end of his nose, teasing.
“I feel you getting hard inside me again, but Lily is waking up and my breasts are about to burst. Worry about that, not about something that's merely a bad dream.”
He kissed her lips and smiled. The mental link had quietly slipped away. He could worry in peace, now that Keisha was out of his head. “Yes, ma'am. Now take care of our daughter before I decide you've not been loved nearly enough this morning.”
Laughing quietly, Keisha slipped her body free of his and headed to the bathroom to wash away the remnants of their lovemaking. He watched her walk, lost in the slow sway of her rounded hips and the deep indentation tracing the sensual curve of her spine. She was so perfect, so trusting. So unwilling to admit to danger, even though she had once endured the worst possible abuse.
He would never let anyone harm her again. Not ever.
She was his world. There was no life without her, and once again, he worried.
* * *
Days later, in the still darkness of the late summer night, Anton stood on the back deck, alone but for his sleeping daughter in his arms. He was naked. The warm night air brushed his skin with a soft caress. The darkness felt personal, almost sentient as it surrounded him, as if it purposefully hid a lover.
Which, of course, was exactly what it did. Anton sighed and wondered how far his mate had run in her quest for a moment of silent communion with her own soul.
She'd carried the weight of his worry with her for almost a week now. While he couldn't stop the nagging sense of something evil in their future, he could at least release his dictatorial grasp on Keisha so she could enjoy at least a few hours of time to herself.
He held tiny Lily Milina's warm little body against his bare chest. He loved the feel of her soft skin next to his, the rhythmic puffs of her warm breath touching his chest, right over his heart. She slept the pure sleep of innocence, her body warmed by his embrace and a fresh diaper, her rosy lips puckered in a sleepy kiss that swelled with each little snore.
Keisha was entirely devoted to their little one, giving one hundred percent of herself, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Somehow, tonight, Anton had managed to convince her to take time for herself. She'd fought him at first, but when he reminded Keisha that if she fell ill, there was no one as capable to care for Lily, she'd finally acquiesced.
Laughing at his persuasive turn of phrase, she'd allowed herself the luxury of a few precious moments alone. With only a small sigh of regret, Keisha'd managed to deposit their tiny daughter in Anton's arms and slip away, shifting into a beautiful dark brown bitch. Light shimmered across the tips of her fur in rich, russet patterns as she turned once toward Anton and her daughter, growling. Anton waved her off, ignoring her repeated instructions of how to take care of Lily.
As if he didn't know already? Now it was Keisha's turn to worry. He'd been laughing when she flipped her beautiful plume of a tail and ran into the forest alone, but he sobered as soon as she was out of sight.
He hadn't told her details of the dreams, but he knew she'd seen them in his thoughts. Knew she respected his worry, even though she felt it was merely his own need to find danger in everything she did. Still, as Anton stared into the dark forest, he almost wished he'd openly shared the vivid images that bedeviled his nights, the fears that gnawed at him during the day. He wanted her to understand the need to take care. Wanted her to watch her surroundings even as she raced alone through the dark forest.
As he let the worry take form once again, Anton caught himself. No. Keisha was right. He needed to learn to let go, to keep his compulsive need to control and protect under restraint.
It was a good thing he'd kept his worry to himself.
Keisha deserved this time alone. She needed to touch base with her feral half without the encumbrance of Anton's all too human fears.
A sound behind him caught his attention and he spun around. Stefan slipped quietly through the sliding glass door wearing nothing but a tired smile on his face. He carried a crystal goblet of amber liquid in each hand.
Anton immediately relaxed. “Hey, Stef. How's it going?”
Stefan handed one of the glasses to Anton and slipped his arm around his waist. He peered down at Lily. “I wish Alex was as relaxed as this little princess. Takes me forever to get him to sleep.”
“Where's Xandi?” Anton lifted the glass to his lips. The smooth liquid left a warm and very welcome trail down his throat.
“She saw Keisha take off and decided to join her. Alex woke up the minute she put him in his crib. I've been trying to get him back down ever since.”
Anton chuckled as memories flooded his mind. “Remember that morning when you told me Xandi was expecting? We shared a glass of this same cognac that day.”
“Yeah. We were both bare ass that morning, too. What's that tell ya?” Stefan bumped his bare hip against Anton's and took a sip. “As I recall, we wondered how much things were going to change once the babies were born.” He shook his head and laughed softly. “I had no idea.”
“I imagine no new parent ever does.” Anton cuddled Lily in the crook of his left arm and peered into the darkness once more. He promised himself, again, not to let his worries rule his life...or Keisha's. “Keisha shifts so rarely, anymore. It's been at least a week. I almost had to threaten her before she agreed to go run tonight.”
“Hoping she'll come back horny?” Stefan grinned around the rim of the goblet.
“There is that.”
But even as he made jokes, Anton worried and watched the dark forest, his thoughts following his mate through the night.
* * *
I'm really glad you came with me. Keisha crossed a small creek, sniffed a burrow on the far side, and waited for Xandi.
You should have told me you were going to run tonight. I almost missed you. Xandi lifted her paw and placed it carefully on a flat stone as she crossed behind Keisha.
I wasn't sure. Anton has been concerned. He worries that I don't take the time to shift and run, and then he worries even more when I'm not with him. In fact, he's driving me batty with his worry.
He worries because he loves you.
Keisha sighed. I know. Still, he makes me feel trapped, even more than caring for Lily ever does.
Xandi paused and cocked her wolven head. Do you regret having Lily?
Never. I miss the freedom Anton and I once had, but I can't imagine life without her.
I know. I feel the same way about Alex. Xandi turned her head to one side. Did you hear that? She moved closer to Keisha. Ahead of us. Something rustling in the brambles.
You, too? You're as bad as Anton. I haven't said anything, but he's been having these stupid dreams... Laughing quietly, Keisha followed Xandi's steely glance and listened for whatever sound her packmate thought she'd heard.
It wasn't sound, but scent that came to her sensitive wolven nose. The acrid, sour smell of fear, of adrenaline and sweat. Someone waited beyond them. A stranger, possibly two. Holding perfectly still, Keisha inhaled once again. Without turning to her friend, she sent a silent message.
Maybe his dreams aren't as stupid as I thought. There's definitely someone up ahead, one, maybe two men, near the base of the cliff by the waterfall. Fade into the brush. You go left, I'll go right. See if your mindtalking can reach Stefan. I'll try for Anton. Whoever is there is up to no good. I don't want them to get away.
Keisha hoped whoever was watching the trail had missed their swift disappearance into the heavy growth alongside. Creeping low to the ground, she slowly and silently worked her way through the brambles and thick undergrowth before she contacted Anton. Immediately, she felt the warmth of his mental touch and the sharp slice of his fear.
And, his typical, autocratic orders. Stay away from them. Wait for Stefan and me.
It's too late. I'm near their hiding place now and their scent is clear.
She immediately set her mental barriers, blocking Anton from her thoughts, knowing full well she'd hear about it later. Right now she needed to concentrate, and listening to orders she had no intention of following wasn't going to help.
There were two men. Definitely two. Keisha raised her nose and sniffed again. She scented Xandi on the opposite side of the trail before she caught the light of her glowing eyes, high up on a cairn of tumbled rock. Xandi crouched low with only the top of her head showing above the ledge where she waited.
I see them. Xandi's voice was a quiet whisper in Keisha's thoughts. Two men, armed with rifles and what looks like lots of rope and a couple of leather muzzles. They're still looking down the trail, waiting on us. How could they know we'd come this way? That we'd run tonight? I don't understand it. She paused, obviously frustrated, and then added, they probably have tranquilizer guns if they're planning to take us alive.
Did you reach Stefan?
Yes. He's on his way. Anton?
He's coming. Mei and Oliver stayed with the babies.
Good. I suggest we just wait and keep an eye on things.
Probably a good idea. Anton started giving orders about staying out of trouble and I blocked him.
You blocked Anton? Oh, shit. He is going to be so pissed. Xandi's silent laughter skated across Keisha's mind.
Let's hope he takes it out on our two visitors instead of me. With that dry comment, Keisha settled back on her haunches to wait.
Xandi's quiet chuckle echoed in her mind. He'll need more than just these two. I bet he's furious. He's never even raised his voice to you!
I know. And between you and me, I'd like to keep it that way. I'd hate to be the focus of his anger. Keisha's soft comment was met by Xandi's silent agreement.
This is an unedited excerpt.
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