Read To Love a Shifter: A Paranormal Romance Boxed Set Online

Authors: Marian Tee

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Anthologies & Literary Collections, #General, #Short Stories, #Anthologies, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Anthologies & Literature Collections, #Genre Fiction, #New Adult & College, #Demons & Devils, #Werewolves & Shifters, #Romantic Comedy

To Love a Shifter: A Paranormal Romance Boxed Set (76 page)

BOOK: To Love a Shifter: A Paranormal Romance Boxed Set
13.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“Caylie, did you hear what I just said?” Sabina snapped her fingers.


I flushed, mumbling an apology, embarrassed at being caught once again zoning out by my friends. We were in a public Caro library, like most everyone were, poring over every book we could find about vampires.


For so long we had thought they were nothing to be afraid of, but now we knew better and now we were preparing to fight.


“Give her a break,” Jeff urged. He had been surprisingly supportive in a really good way since I came back, never asking the wrong question or saying the wrong word. “She’s been through a lot.”


Seeing Sabina getting ready to shoot him down with a verbal flaying, I said hastily, “It’s all right, Jeff. It’s my fault really when I was the one who wanted to come here.”


Still fuming, Sabina turned to Phillip, who seemed to immediately understand her unspoken message. “Come along, Jeff. I think these books are garbage. We need to get flirty with the librarian and see if can give us better ones.”


“I swear, Caylie, did you really have to bring him with us?” Sabina exploded the moment Phillip dragged away a bemused Jeff.


“He’s my cover-up, you know that.” My friends knew about my plan. They had to. If I ever turned vampire before everything pushed through, they were my contingency.


“I’m not even sure what you’re doing is the right thing to do,” Ever said worriedly. “I’ve read everything I could about the legend of the twins, but none of it had suggested what the Invisa told you.”


“I trust her,” I said softly. “And if there’s any chance that Luka may turn, too, because of me, I’ll do anything to stop it.”


It was almost six in the evening when we decided to call it quits. I turned down Jeff’s invitation to go out for dinner, like I had always done for the past few days. He had been increasingly insistent about it but I chalked it down to frustration. I knew I was leading him on, and I knew I would have to pay for it one day.


“Home now, Ms. Caylie?” The family chauffeur asked politely as he opened the door for me.


“Yes please.” I climbed in and leaned back against the seat, eyes falling shut immediately.




My eyes shot open to see Luka gazing at me with a raised eyebrow.


,” I breathed. I didn’t think. I just threw myself in his arms and I could have cried when his own arms wrapped around my body tightly, his lips immediately taking mine in an almost brutally possessive kiss.


“I missed you.” I couldn’t make myself
say it for some reason.


His lips curved in a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “So much that you spent every minute of the day with that boy?”


“What else could I do to save face when you only let Emilia Moretti visit you?” This time I tried to sound flippant, but my voice still broke in the end.


Luka cursed. “Listen to me, Caylie.”


I backed away from him. “No.” I covered my ears, not sure I wouldn’t turn vampire in a heartbeat if I heard him confess his love to the Lyccan princess.


Luka forcibly pulled my hands down. “Look at me.”


I reluctantly obeyed him even as I hissed, “I hate you.”


Luka smiled mirthlessly. “The last few days had started to convince me of it.”


“Then what are you still doing with me?” I tried to struggle away but he didn’t let go. “Go back to your precious princess and live a fucking happily-ever-after—”


“Caylie, shut up.”


Coming from Luka, the rude command was shocking enough to shut me up, but I couldn’t stop glaring at him.


“Everything had been a ruse from the start,” Luka bit out. “We first spread the rumors of our engagement because we wanted all eyes on us while Riyu and Stefan worked behind the scenes. Everyone knew that I was the type to
let Riyu take a risk since he’s the only pureblood we have left.”


My eyes widened at the realization. “And that was why you two were successful in becoming red herrings.”


“When the need for us to became betrothed came out, we decided to twist things a little bit by making everyone think I was dating her behind your back. We all knew that vampires were on my tail even if we didn’t see them. We also knew that if they were led to believe I was having secret trysts with Emilia, then it would only make sense that I’d discard all my guards so that not even the smallest rumors would reach your ears.”


“So when you were attacked in the past? Shouldn’t you secretly have had guards then? I mean, that’s the point, right? To fool them into thinking they were ambushing you when in reality you were waiting to ambush them?”


“A miscalculation,” he said after a beat.


“Luka,” I said evenly. “You don’t do miscalculations.”


His lips twitched. “You know me that well?”


“Don’t beat around the bush either. It doesn’t become you.”


“That night…”


That night you first rejected making love to me…


“My visit to Emilia wasn’t planned.”


I sucked my breath. Then why did he go to her? Had he wanted to beg for her forgiveness? Ah God of Caros, I needed to be sent to the dungeons now. It was getting harder and harder to stay myself when everything in me just wanted the world to hurt as much as I did.


My lips curving in a smile, I said with vicious sweetness, “It’s great, really, how everything seems to fall so neatly into place.”


Luka smiled back. “But it’s strange,
mi vavli
, how I get the feeling we’re talking about two different things,” he said mildly.


“So smart of you,” I cooed even as my heart continued to harden, the walls of ice surrounding it thickening.




“I bet you were the one who thought the whole thing up. You realized that you could use this undercover mission to get closer to Emilia and have her fall in love with you.”


The car was slowing down as it passed the gates of our home. I leaned forward and placed a kiss on Luka’s cheek. “Congratulations, Luka. That was very brilliant of you. I hope after everything, when we finally put an end to our betrothal, I wish you the most wonderful life with your princess.”


He caught my wrist just as I was about to step out of the car. “And you?” he demanded in a chilled voice. “What would you be doing?”


Tossing him a seductive smile over the shoulder, I answered lightly, “What do you think?”

Chapter Fifteen



The Season of Golden Galas marked the start of spring, the days that signaled the end of our freedom. As the sun would spend longer and longer hours in the sky, it meant hiding longer and longer behind walls. Whereas the Season of Crimson Fetes was an endless chain of celebrations purely meant to lavishly underscore the beauty of our lives as Caros, this season was the very opposite, a stark reminder that we would never be free from dangers and thus treaties and alliances were made and broken.


The First Night Ball was hosted by Luka’s grandfather, and it was a bittersweet homecoming for the last time I had been here Luka had given me my first kiss.


We arrived in courtly attires and elaborate masks for all Caros knew that the patriarch of the Georgiades clan was terribly fond of masquerades. The lilting notes of the orchestra playing from the balcony reached me as I climbed the grand staircase leading to the majestic front doors of the Georgiades’ mansion. A red carpet had been laid out, a long-standing tradition for the clan’s devotion to the courtly arts.


Luka stood next to his grandfather, receiving guest after guest with a smile that never quite reached his eyes. But those violet ones lit up like amethysts when they rested on me. I curtsied, murmuring the traditional niceties.


Luka’s grandfather waved it away and drew me close for a hug. “I have missed you, child.”


“As I missed you, Grandfather.” He had insisted I call him that ever since I was a child.


Then it was Luka’s turn.


“You look ravishing,” he murmured as he offered his arm. The way his eyes caressed my body told me it was no lie, the heat of passion in his gaze making me swallow as he slowly took in my outfit from head to toe.


I had dressed to make a statement even though I knew in the end I wouldn’t be the one winning. My gold colored gown had a tight-fitting strapless bodice that was made entirely of silver lace at the back. Whereas the skirt was full at the back, it was extremely short in front, displaying my long legs and crimson sky-high heels blatantly.


I smiled at Luka as I took his arm then surprising him by running my fingers on his lips. “You look like you’re meant to be ravished, too, Luka.” And he was.


Again he was in suit and tie, the most elegant I had seen, a white and lace combination that should have made Luka look gay or like an Elvis impersonator. But instead it made him stand out, sophisticated beyond his nineteen years and oh-so-mouth-wateringly sexy I could hear the women around us whimpering silently in hopes that he would glance at them, even just once. If he ever did, I had a feeling many of them would spontaneously orgasm.


“Shall we?”


I nodded, and Luka guided me into the ballroom. It was as wondrously and ethereally opulent as I remembered, with everything larger than life but tastefully so. The chandeliers sparkled, candlelight swaying in rivalry with the brilliance of diamonds that studded its metal branches. Huge, thick eight-foot-tall velvet curtains in midnight black were drawn to the sides, revealing ornately stenciled frames for doors that led out to terraces overlooking the gardens, courtyard, and pool surrounding the house.


A new song played, a darkly whimsical tune with notes so complicated only Caro fingers could play it. “Would you care to dance,
mi vavli
?” Luka asked.


“It would be my pleasure,” I answered just as formally before laughing freely as Luka stunned me with a little twist that had us whirling to the other end of the room. Applause thundered around us, but we didn’t really hear it, caught by the magic of our own brand of waltz, a dance made romantic and erotic by our race’s sheer love for pleasure.


When he slowed down as the music ended, the clock struck twelve and I felt like my time had ended. Fear made me clutch his shoulders tightly. “Luka?” I whispered, failing to keep my voice from shaking.


He looked down at me with sharp concern, tensing. “What is it?”


I knew I shouldn’t say it, but I did anyway. “You won’t leave me alone tonight, will you, Luka?”


Frustration burned in Luka’s gaze. “Caylie, it’s not what you think.”


My heart sank at his inability to say what I wanted to hear from him. I twisted my head away. “I understand.”




A flash of midnight black caught my vision, and my breath stuttered in my chest.


The pretense had begun.


I tiptoed to kiss him lingeringly on the lips. “Be happy,” I whispered. “Please, please be happy for me.”


Luka tore his lips away, his eyes wild. “Don’t speak like that,” he gritted out. “It’s almost like you’re saying goodbye.”


But I was already drifting away, knowing that in seconds a tiny dark-haired princess would be taking my place. Her scent was unmistakable, sweet and exotic, but to me it had the stench of my death.


The whispers started even before I reached the other end of the ballroom and my hand started shaking as I accepted a flute of champagne made potent with iron-rich blood from one of the roving waiters.


When I turned around, I caught sight of Emilia smiling up at Luka. The smile brimmed with mystery and sensuality, so much so it made me shiver with a mixture of terror and rage.


Luka took Emilia’s hand.


No, don’t. Don’t leave me.


His head twisted around to face me, as if he had instinctively heard my cry. I wanted to reach out to him, to call him to my side but remembering the Invisa’s words stopped me. Instead, I turned my back on Luka, smiling at the first man I saw.


When I looked back, they were both gone.


“Do you want us to follow them?”


Startled at the sudden question, I whirled around and saw Jeff staring afar, a twisted smile on his lips.


“Wh-what do you mean?”


“I know where they went, Georgina and the dog princess.”




He grimaced. “I’m sorry. I just can’t help but get mad at the way he’s treating you. How the fuck he thinks that bit—that girl is better than you is beyond me.”


I shook my head. “She’s a wonderful girl.”


“You’re more wonderful.” He said it so strongly I almost took a step back.


Frowning, I asked, “Are you okay? Have you too much to drink already?”


“Dance with me,” he said instead and didn’t give me any chance to argue. I wouldn’t have anyway, not with Luka and Emilia coming back into the ballroom, her hair delightfully mussed.


It was a ruse. It was just a ruse.


Emilia reached out to fix his bowtie.




My fangs started to come out and I missed a step.




The fangs kept coming out and the world around me started getting dimmer.




Caros around us were beginning to stare and I knew I had to do something before they found out about me. Without thinking, I twirled my arms around Jeff’s neck and pulled him down for a kiss. I bit his tongue, just to blunt my fangs and have it retreat. Jeff moaned against my lips, but the sound was more repulsive than arousing.


When I pulled away, the first thing I saw was the hard glitter in Luka’s gaze as he stared at us, his jaw clenched, his face inscrutable.


“I want more,” Jeff said huskily.


I tried to laugh it off even though I was sick to my stomach. “Don’t be too clingy or I might lose interest.”


Jeff took the bait, immediately backing down. “How about another dance?” But he was already whirling me back into the dance floor and by the time I was facing him again, I realized all he wanted to do was to use the dance to cop a feel.


Closing my eyes, I let his fingers drift over my nape, my bare shoulders and down to my waist. It was the only thing that kept me from wondering where Luka was and what he was doing, the only thing that kept me from turning.


When I opened my eyes, Emilia was smiling in Luka’s arms as he twirled them around.


Jeff spun me around, too, letting go of me momentarily as was custom.


When I spun back, it was Luka facing me, his hands easily catching mine before letting one settle on his shoulder while entwining his fingers with the other. “Did you enjoy your dance?”


enjoy your dance?”


“Don’t play with me,” Luka hissed.


I pressed myself against him, and Luka froze, almost missing a step as I took our dance to another level of intimacy, one that Caros often used to prelude sex. “Caylie, dammit.”


“Could you just tell me why, Luka? Just say it once and I won’t ever…”


Luka tipped my chin even as we swayed to the music. “Tell me, Caylie. I’ll answer, whatever it is. I swear.”


I asked brokenly, “Why won’t you take me?”


He sucked his breath.


I laid my head against his chest, listening to the way his heart thudded painfully hard.


“If I take you and learn someone already had you before me, I would go berserk and kill that person, no matter who he is.”


I stiffened.


“But if no one has touched you then I can’t touch you because it would be unfair. I don’t want you to give me your virginity because I seduced it from you. I want you to make the choice—”


“No one has ever touched me.”


Luka cursed. “Caylie, don’t—”


“And you don’t need to seduce me because I choose you. I only choose you and if you don’t take me now, I’ll choose someone else right this—”


Luka’s kiss stopped what else I had to say. Then he kept me from thinking altogether when he swept me in his arms and walked past the guests, climbing all the way up to where the bedrooms were in full view of everyone.


I kissed his neck, inhaling his scent. Just for tonight I wanted to be his. Oh God of Caros, let this tonight be mine.


“No one disturbs us,” Luka growled at the first uniformed guard he saw.


“Yes, Your Highness.”


Luka reached his room and nudged it open. The door swung shut as he strode towards his bed, an enormous extra-king size decorated completely in white. But the overall effect was more elegant than stark, just like Luka.

BOOK: To Love a Shifter: A Paranormal Romance Boxed Set
13.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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