Friday, December 16, 2011
Wolfsblood 1: Snow Wolf by Marteeka Karland
Wolfsblood: Snow Wolf
by Marteeka Karland
Cover art: Marteeka Karland
Page Count: 32
Xander needed no one, least of all a mate. The woman was a menace to his solitude, calling to the Vampire within and daring him to take her. Instinct wouldn't allow him NOT to hunt her, especially with another male sniffing around what was his by right.
The female in Luna recognized her mate immediately, even if he was too much of a male to realize it himself. Knowing he would fight the attraction, she decided to wait and let Fate take its course. What is meant to be cannot be denied.
But in the end, leaving may be the only thing that will save the forever Luna feels in Xander's arms...
Xander’s anger was as cold as the frozen rain stinging every bit of his exposed flesh. He watched his prey with fury. How $dare she? The Snow Wolf embraced a male of her kind before slipping into the small opening in the rock beneath the natural overhang. As soon as he’d realized this was where she lived, Xander had scouted out the caverns until he knew them like the back of his hand. He’d only seen the woman from a distance, but her obvious familiarity with the other man put Xander in a killing rage. The unnatural attraction he had for a woman he’d never even met didn’t bother him in the least. It was what it was. Xander intended to take the woman for his own before the night was upon them, and that was all that mattered.
Soundlessly, he followed the couple into the cave beyond the rock wall. Only the slight sound of their distant voices deeper underground drifted to him, but it was enough. Xander followed, waiting for the moment the male turned away from her. He would not kill the man. Yet. If he proved to be too much of a nuisance later, though, Xander would eliminate the threat.
Knowing the caverns in this area well, Xander recognized the direction his woman and her companion headed, and he veered off. The farther away from them he was, the less likely they’d know he followed. Crawling through smaller crevices, he made his way to the community buried deeply in this particular branch off the Mammoths. It was getting late, and Xander knew the woman would make her way to her residence soon. He intended to be there waiting on her. It was time he claimed what was his.
Never had a woman intrigued him like she did. The pull toward her was unbreakable, and Xander wasn’t a man who fought his inner cravings. Being half Lionsblood, he recognized the call of a mate. Being half Vampire, he knew he could choose to ignore it, but he didn’t really want to. He wanted to explore her before he dismissed her. If he had her a time -- or fifty -- he could think again. All he had to do was work her out of his system, and he could move on with his life. Xander wasn’t made to be tied to someone. He was more animal than man.
It took only a few minutes to reach her den and enter through a crevice in an out-of-the-way corner she’d covered with a heavy boulder, presumably to keep out the draft as well as unwanted guests. Xander’s strength, however, was enormous. Not only did he have the enhanced strength of the Lionsblood, but he was gifted with many abilities of the Vampire as well. More so than even his brother, Shiffley. Shiffley had always helped humans, even before he met the female he’d mated with. Now, he was positively smitten. Xander refused to be like that. He was a loner, pure and simple.
Once inside, he surveyed her room with a critical eye. There were several small feminine articles -- pastel bed coverings, a couple of very difficult to come by scented candles, a colorful vase, and a small bar of scented soap -- but nothing masculine. Good. She didn’t share her living space with the man. That would have been unfortunate.
For the man.
Situating himself in one of the darkened corners, Xander settled in to wait. Which he did. For over two hours. To say Xander was in a foul mood by the time the door to her den opened was a severe understatement. To put it mildly, he was seething. He waited until she was in the room and the door firmly shut behind her before making her aware of his presence.
“Where the hell have you been?” The question was growled and so full of menace Xander half expected her to run screaming from the room. Lesser men and women had in the past. Not his woman. She merely looked around until she spotted him where he leaned against the wall. Xander straightened then and stalked toward her. He didn’t move quickly, but rather took his time, approached her warily. No doubt she’d bolt at any second.
“I wondered when you’d finally get around to joining me.” Her tone was mild, not in the least distressed. If he hadn’t known better, he might have suspected she knew he’d been following her. “Have a seat. I’ll make us some tea.” She gestured toward the small couch, the only piece of furniture in the room other than her bed. Lighting a small lamp set in a natural alcove in the rock, she set about her task, not once looking back at him.
Of all the things Xander had expected, it wasn't this. She acted as if this were an everyday occurrence to her. He wondered exactly how many men she’d entertained here. Immediately, he tried to tamp down on the inquiry because it sent his temper spiraling out of control. She turned to him, as if sensing his rage, her face serene. She might have been in the room with a close friend for all the fear she showed. She didn’t seem to consider herself in any danger at all.
“Drink this.” She handed him a cup of dark, steaming liquid. “It will help ease your discomfort.”
On some level, Xander knew he should say something. He knew what he was feeling was so far out of the norm for him as to be on a completely different plane of existence. Anger was nothing new to him. Everyone got angry. But the intense, rolling jealousy was something else altogether. He knew it, but seemed helpless to stop it. What the hell was happening to him?
Xander downed the hot tea in one long gulp. It burned his throat, but he welcomed the distraction. Control was one thing he’d always prided in himself, but all good sense seemed to have vanished. All because of the woman in front of him.
She was dressed in a white, quilted jumpsuit that covered her from the throat down and heavy white boots that reached to her knees. Obviously, she’d dressed to blend in with the snow rather than stand out. It was a dangerous move. If an unexpected whiteout occurred and she got lost, the chances of anyone finding her were slim to none. Even her hair was snow white. She wore it in a tight, thick bun at the back of her head, but tiny, curling wisps fell around her face as if to protest the binding of such lovely locks. All this accentuated her exotic beauty. She was slender, almost tiny. Definitely tiny in comparison to him, but that was hardly fair. He was large even for his race. Even the biggest human would be dwarfed by him. This woman looked almost like a child in comparison. Almost.
The thing that made her stand out the most, however, was her rich, dark skin. Light from the lamp played across her face, and her skin seemed to shimmer like the finest black pearls. Xander was transfixed, all his rage and jealousy seeming to evaporate. At first, he thought it was the tea, but the longer he looked at her, he was convinced it was the woman herself. The tea might have helped to take off the edge, but she exuded peace and calm. Just looking into her vivid green eyes, knowing he had her full attention, eased the intensity of his emotions. He still felt that jealous rage simmering beneath the surface, but he could control it.
“What have you done to me?” His whispered question should have shamed him. He was not a simpering, weak man to fall prey to a woman’s charms, yet the very idea of another man sharing her bed still filled him with a killing rage unlike any blood lust he’d experienced.
“You’re my mate,” she said simply. “Being a Vampire $and Lionsblood apparently heightens that instinct on some level. Probably because I’m a Wolfsblood and, technically, your mortal enemy.”