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Authors: Chandra Ryan

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Bond Betrayed

BOOK: Bond Betrayed
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Bond Betrayed

Chandra Ryan

 

Isaac Marrow doesn’t care that Nikki Rathe is a seductress. She’s the only member of the Community who can help him get his sister Molly back from Nikki’s father, who holds the rest of their kind under his spell. But he doesn’t expect her to help willingly. Instead, he tricks her into giving up her blood, bonding her to him in an effort to compel her support.

Nikki could have told Isaac that bonding himself to a seductress was a foolish move, but he never asked. Now, a powerful lust ties them together, driving them both mad. Isaac is hot, but the desire is a distraction she doesn’t need. Nikki wants to free Molly and bring down her father just as much as Isaac, if not more. The Community banished her as a child while letting her power-hungry father grow stronger. But Isaac’s betrayal of her trust can’t go unpunished. And a seductress can deliver a powerful punishment.

Bond Betrayed

Chandra Ryan

 

Chapter One

 

Glancing at the people around her in the supermarket, Nikki’s focus was drawn to a man standing one line over and two carts ahead of her. His sleek black hair was pulled back neatly at the nape of his neck and he was wearing a gray button-up shirt with a snug pair of black slacks—the cut of the clothing accentuating his lean, muscular frame.

It’s him.

There was no doubt about it, he was a member of the Community and, just like Nikki, he had magic running through his blood. She knew it in an instant. She could feel him. Damn, she could almost taste him. It’d been two long years since she’d been hit by the tingling pull that drew her race together, but there was no denying it. And, as much as she hated herself for the weakness, there was no ignoring her craving for it.

Her mouth watered as she allowed her gaze to sweep from his broad shoulders to his narrow hips. No human could ever look that dangerous. Or that tempting. But dangerous and tempting was a combination best avoided. At least for an outcast like her.

She said a quick prayer that he wouldn’t notice her—that he couldn’t feel her presence as clearly as she felt his. But she’d never been one of god’s favorites and, as if to prove it, as soon as she’d finished the prayer the man turned to meet her gaze. His brow wrinkled above dark-tinted glasses as he stared at her. She should look away before he became too interested, but to do so would be seen as submissive. A tiny bubble of laughter broke through her at the thought. Submissive was something she could never be.

He lifted the dark glasses and his golden-brown gaze locked with hers, making her instantly regret her burst of laughter. Without encouragement, he probably would’ve turned away from her without any real notice. But now? Now warmth and acceptance filled her at the inviting look he gave her.

Yeah. He’d noticed and he appeared to be interested. And interest always called to her magic. Immediately, the heat that accompanied her magic began to swell at the pit of her stomach, filling her with its strength. God she loved that feeling. Craved the hum of power as it flooded her veins, begging to be released. Her head swam with the ecstasy of it. And for one second she allowed herself to walk that very thin, very dangerous line that separated control from abandon. She couldn’t cross it, couldn’t give her magic the release it craved, but even the thought filled her with so much pleasure she couldn’t help but entertain it.

Yep, her kind were power-obsessed and, despite decades of wishing and praying, she was one of them. Actually, she was worse than most. Her magic could never be tapped, could never be released, but she still called it. She played with it, knowing what would happen if she caved to its strength.

It was worse than playing with fire. Fire could kill. She could—would—do so much more. With one touch her magic would bend the man until he broke. But that was nothing compared to what it would do to her if she let it take control. She’d end up just like her father.

She cooled at the thought, her mind clearing and the world taking shape around her once more. No. She would never find the acceptance promised in the stranger’s gaze. Not in his or the human world. She was too dangerous to ever be accepted by anyone.

The bitter truth was enough to force her spine straight and push her shoulders back in defiance as she leveled her best glare in his general direction. But it wasn’t quite strong enough to silence the longing coursing through her. Oh no, that would ruin the universal punch line that was her life. The punch line that answered, what do you get when you give a soul-sucking seductress a conscience? Yep, she was betting someone in the heavens was laughing right now.

The man, however, didn’t seem overly concerned with the cosmic consequences of their meeting as he smiled brashly and then slid his glasses back into place before turning away to put his groceries on the conveyor belt.

Chemistry 1, Willpower 0.

She released a captive breath and willed her heart to stop racing as she forced her attention to the tabloids in front of her. Her body may very well think she was a hormonal teenager, but she knew better. She had to pull it together. In a few minutes he’d go his way and she’d go hers. And life would be as it should. It’d be safe, stable, comfortable.

Glancing up, she watched him pay and pick up his bags before confidently walking toward the door without a backward glance.

It was over.

She waited for the rush of relief to flood her, waited for the calm that always followed a storm. But it didn’t come. Instead, the almost uncontrollable hunger was replaced by the cold blanket of disappointment. He hadn’t even looked back at her.

She was justified in her reasons for not pursuing him, but he didn’t have a reason to walk away. He should’ve at least asked for a phone number or something. Right? Could she be losing her touch? Had the years of self-discipline and sacrifice while she helped her sister Izzy get clean and sober taken such a toll? Did it matter?

She rolled her eyes at the stupidity of the question. She was a freaking seductress. Nothing mattered more. Narcissism was as much a part of being a seductress as her hyped-up sex drive. She didn’t like it, but she’d learned she didn’t have to like it to make peace with it.

“Ma’am?”

Looking up, she realized it was her turn to check out and she hadn’t even put her purchases on the conveyer belt. “Oh, sorry.” She hoped the smile she donned masked the frustration and irritation she was really feeling as she placed her groceries on the belt.

Did she want him? Of course. More importantly, though, she wanted him to want her. She glanced back at the door as the cashier scanned her purchases. Maybe…

But that was as far as she’d allow the thought to develop.

After her items had been rung up and paid for, she grabbed her lone sack of groceries and walked out the door—forcing her chin up and her shoulders back. She’d made a decision. But it was completely dependent on what happened next.

The sunlight was blinding as she stepped onto the black tar of the parking lot. It was early evening, but the summer sun still had several more hours before it relented to the cool light of the moon. Grimacing at the heat that radiated from the asphalt beneath her, she wished she’d taken the time to stop at home and change before venturing to the store. The blazer of her business skirt suit trapped the heat of the day next to her skin.

But, despite that heat, she stood patiently under the blazing sun as she scanned the cars in the lot. She was searching for something—or more specifically someone—and a little discomfort wasn’t going to keep her from him.

Yes, she realized she was giving in to instinct—but only a little.

It wasn’t until her gaze caught on the man leaning against a black, late-sixties Shelby Mustang that she started walking again. Halfway to him, though, she realized her mistake. What if he truly didn’t want her? What if she couldn’t seduce him? The sting of rejection was more than just a turn of phrase for her. She’d spiral. Why had she started this walk?

To feel the thrill of conquest.

The reminder was enough to steel her nerves against the ribbon of doubt snaking its way through her self-confidence. She could do this. She had to. Besides, he was too close for her to change direction now even if she wanted to.

She forced the silent dialogue of self-doubt in the back of her mind to stop. This would work. He would want her. She was certain of it…for the most part.

But as she approached him, he only nodded in her general direction—just a slight tip of his head. Otherwise, he didn’t move. What the fuck was that? Nodding back, she continued walking past him. She did her best to appear calm and confident, but her insides were knotted with apprehension. As soon as her magic realized she’d been rejected, spectacularly at that, it would beg for release and there’d be pain. She needed to get out of here.

“Excuse me.”

Her heart stopped at the simple sentence spoken behind her. Surely she’d misheard. He hadn’t waited for her to walk past him to decide to speak to her, had he?

“Miss?”

Damn! Still, if she could salvage this, it was worth a shot.

She turned slowly to face him. “Yes?”

“Why don’t I know you?” The deep timbre of his voice made heat pool at her core.

Studying his face, she thought there was something vaguely familiar about him, but she let it go. She’d been forced out of the Community too long ago for her to remember him even if she had known him back then. And if he knew who she was, he’d be running in the other direction. Her last name had a tendency to evoke that response.

Arching an eyebrow inquisitively, she gave him her most seductive smile. “My best guess? It’s because we’ve never met.”

“That’s unfortunate. I would’ve enjoyed meeting you.”

Her breath caught at the raw sensuality surrounding the man. She shouldn’t be standing so close to him—not if she wanted to keep the tenuous grasp of control she still had. But she couldn’t bear the idea of moving away. “I’m sure you would’ve.”

“Maybe we should meet.”

She wasn’t ignorant to their ways—this wasn’t an invitation to tea. This was exactly what she’d been hoping for as she’d made her way over to him. But, no matter how strongly he affected her, she couldn’t afford to be reckless. “Maybe, but…”

“But what?”

But she wasn’t suicidal. Not exactly something one could articulate without raising suspicion, though. She took a small step toward him and immediately regretted it. Standing so close, the pull was stronger, so intense she found it was a struggle to remember why she’d taken the step in the first place. “I’d need to know who owns you first.”

He stared at her as if confused for a moment.

“Your family and alliances,” she clarified. “Will you let me see them?” It was a daringly bold question but, if she was going to do this—and she really wanted to do this—she needed to make sure it wasn’t some sort of trick.

“Are there any you’re looking for—specifically that is?” As he slowly unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt, she saw the beginning of the elaborate series of tattoos and mentally kicked herself. Only she would stumble upon someone so well-connected his entire torso would be inked. “Or should I strip down for you right here in the parking lot?”

The thought of him naked in front of her made her knees weak. “As tempting as that is, I know what I’m looking for.” After putting her groceries down on the asphalt, she reached out to him, taking his right hand gently. As her hand touched his, a current of electricity swept through her. He was strong, maybe stronger than she was. They would be good together. Compatible.

She forced herself to take a calming breath before unbuttoning his cuff and rolling the crisp linen of his sleeve just to the spot where the crow would have rested. She’d been running from that damned crow her entire life, and today was no exception.

“And?” His voice seemed heavier than it had just a minute ago. “Did you find what you were looking for?”

She shook her head in answer to his question, but her focus remained on his arm. “No.” She absently traced one of the designs, contemplating its meaning. “You’re an enforcer.” And having been inked meant he was high in the enforcer ranks. Enforcers didn’t get the tattooed shield until they’d become detectives. And to become a detective, one had to put time in on the front lines.

“Does that make a difference?”

The decades-old sting of injustice was still there, but it wasn’t directed at him. He was a child when the enforcers failed her family and forced her mother to turn to human protection. She couldn’t hold their incompetence against him. It wasn’t his fault she and Izzy had ended up in human foster care.

“Really?”

“Really, truly,” she said sweetly as she released his hand. “I’m not a model citizen.” That was a lie. As a lawyer, she did her best to make sure her actions were always above the board. Judging from his demeanor and the amount of ink in his blood, though, she was willing to bet he was attracted to bad girls and she was willing to bend the truth to get what she wanted. “But I haven’t done anything that’d merit the enforcers’ attention.”

He chuckled softly as his gaze swept over her. “I’d have to disagree with you there.”

It was a delicate dance of seduction—one of control and submission. The man radiated warmth and strength and she craved it like a junkie after her next hit. Just being close to him made her feel more alive than she had in a decade. But she planned on being the one in control. “Do you live nearby?”

He seemed as startled by the bold nature of the question as she was. He stared at her for a heartbeat longer, his smile turning from lazy to wicked. “Near enough.”

The absence of an invitation was subtle, but not subtle enough to go unnoticed. He was testing her. Was she willing to walk away from the heat between them or would she beg for the invitation? Now she was certain he didn’t know her. She may hate her father, but she was still his daughter. His stubborn blood still ran through her veins. And if there was one steadfast rule in her family it was that Rathes didn’t beg. Just the thought left a bitter taste in her mouth.

A tempting man he may be, but no one was that tempting. “I see. Well, it was nice almost meeting you.” She picked up her groceries as she turned from him. Determined to walk away, she took a step toward her car. But he was quick and his hands captured her hips before she could take another. He pulled her gently toward him until her back rested against his chest.

BOOK: Bond Betrayed
7.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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