Lucas Simone paced the confines of the eight-by-twelve-foot jail cell, a snarl on his lips. The wolf within howled with rage, and the man that the world generally saw, well, he felt more than a little pissed, too.
Collared for a murder he hadn’t committed. Talk about shit-luck. Yeah, Lucas had played on the wild side, he’d even killed before, and the bastards had more than deserved the death he’d given them.
But this time, for this crime, he was innocent.
Like the cops would buy that story.
His hands tightened around the bars. If he wanted, he could rip those bars apart, and if they didn’t let him out soon, he would. “I want my lawyer! Now!” His pack had to wonder where he was. A leader didn’t just vanish, and if he didn’t make contact with them soon, Lucas wasn’t exactly sure what would happen.
Probably hell on earth… or wolves running wild in LA, which, yeah, that equaled hell on earth. Especially if he wasn’t there to keep the wilder wolves on their leashes.
Everyone already knew that wolf shifters had a tendency to dance on the edge of sanity. Once those leashes were gone… hello, hell.
The bars beneath his fingers began to bend as the rage swelled inside him.
A human was dead. Tossed on his doorstep like garbage.
Not my kill.
Because Lucas had a rule. Just one. Don’t attack the weak.
As far as he was concerned, there wasn’t any being weaker than a human.
“Guard!” His teeth burned as they lengthened in his mouth. No more fucking nice wolf. He was getting out, one way or another. The metal bars groaned within his grasp.
“Simone!” Not the guard’s voice. That shout belonged to the dumbass detective who’d brought him in for questioning. Only he hadn’t been questioned. The cop had just thrown his ass into a cage.
Lucas’s kind didn’t do so well with cages.
He’d make sure the detective didn’t make the same mistake again.
His eyes lifted, tracked to the left to meet that beady gray stare—
And instead got caught by a pair of green eyes.
His nostrils flared. The woman stood beside the detective, a slight frown between her eyebrows. She was tall, curved just the way he wanted a woman to be, with sensual, full breasts and hips that would let a guy hold on tight for a wild ride.
Pretty face. Straight nose, tilted just a bit on the end—kinda cute. A light spray of freckles across her high cheekbones. Sexy red lips. Jaw that was a bit stubborn.
And gorgeous hair. A thick mane of dark, dark brown hair that curled around her face.
Her stare widened as he gazed at her. She licked her lips, a quick swipe of her tongue.
His cock began to swell, an immediate and instinctive response, even as suspicion rose within him. What was the sexy little human doing at his cell? Was she another cop? A lawyer?
Her eyes—the greenest he’d ever seen—stayed locked on his. That emerald stare didn’t waver at all. Not even to glance toward the right, to lock on the jagged remains of his ear.
Most women looked. Like they couldn’t help it. Looked, flinched. So did the men.
Lucas had never really given a damn. The top of his ear had been ripped off years ago in the worst fight of his life. He’d been ten at the time.
But she didn’t look.
A guard came scurrying into the holding area, keys loose and jingling in his right hand.
“Get him out.” The order came from Detective Dickhead.
Lucas let go of the bars, even as he tried to chain the beast that demanded he lunge for the ass’s throat.
Playing it civilized sucked.
The door opened seconds later with a harsh moan.
The woman smiled—with her lips, not her eyes. “Lover…” A sexy purr of sound.
He felt that purr run the length of his body, even as the lie burned in his mind. He knew he’d never been this lady’s lover.
Not yet, anyway.
“You’re free to go, Romeo,” Detective Dickhead drawled. “Your lady gave you an alibi for last night, one that we were able to back up with accounts from three other witnesses.”
Last night, he’d gone running solo. He’d let the wolf out so that he could howl and hunt as much as he wanted.
He’d come home with the taste of blood on his tongue, and then he’d found blood staining his front steps.
Lucas rolled his shoulders, trying to force the tension back, and stalked out of the cage. Then she was in his arms. Throwing herself against him. Wrapping slender arms around his neck and pressing her mouth to his.
Lucas wasn’t a stupid man. If a sexy woman wanted to plaster her curves against him, he wasn’t gonna argue.
But he was most certainly gonna take.
His hands lifted, caught her, locked right around the firm flare of her ass, and he pressed her closer. His mouth took hers, his tongue plunged deep. Oh, but she tasted sweet. Not the wild tang of his kind. Women who could shift into the powerful form of a beast usually tasted like aged wine.
She tasted like candy.
He’d always had a sweet tooth.
Her tongue moved against his, soft strokes, like a kitten, licking. A moan trembled in her throat.
His cock strained against the front of his jeans. Okay, so he didn’t know who she was. Not gonna stop him. Because he’d sure like to screw—
“Ahem.” Dickhead again.
The woman in his arms stiffened.
For show. He knew she hadn’t forgotten the detective’s presence. And neither had he. Lucas just hadn’t given a damn that they were being observed.
“Sorry I wasn’t here sooner.” Her voice was husky, sexual. Like a silken stroke right over his dick.
“No problem, babe.” He curved his fingers under her chin. Two could play. He saw the small tremor that shook her, and he smiled. Deliberately, he let her see the sharp edge of his teeth. Way sharper than a human’s.
But no fear flashed in her eyes.
The lady knew the score, he’d stake his pack’s reputation on that fact. She knew he wasn’t human. Probably knew exactly what he was.
And she was still coming to his aid.
Now, as a rule, Lucas didn’t believe that people were good. No, he knew they were more apt to be influenced by the devil than any pure motivation, so he figured she had an angle.
“The Los Angeles police department apologizes for any inconvenience,” the nasal voice of Dickhead told him.
Lucas released the woman. Gently, he pushed her to the side. His eyes narrowed as he cocked his head and waited for Dickhead to finish.
“Of course, you have a known history of affiliation with certain—”
He moved in one quick lunge. Lucas grabbed the detective, lifted the jerk by his too-thick throat, and slammed him against the bars.
The guard stepped forward.
Lucas’s head snapped to the right. “Don’t even think about it.” Guttural. Because really, a guy’s patience could only last so long.
The guard’s Adam’s apple bobbed.
“Good.” He glanced back at the detective. “Bruce, I think you and I need to clear the air.” So others were there watching—big deal. He wouldn’t play subtle. “You’ve got a hard-on for me. You been dodging my feet for the last two months.” He let the beast show in his eyes. Lucas knew the glow of the wolf would burn from his blue stare. “You stay out of my way from now on or you’ll find out just what I do to bastards who piss me off.”
The detective’s skin bleached. “You—you can’t threaten a cop—”
He let his claws dig into Bruce’s flapping flesh. “I just did.”
“What are you?” A whisper.
His smile faded. “Someone”—something—“you don’t want to have as an enemy.” His fingers loosened. The detective slid from his grip. Dropped to the floor. Probably pissed himself.
Lucas glared down at the man. He let Bruce see the intent in his eyes. Then he caught the woman’s hand. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”
Sarah King let the tall, dark wolf shifter drag her down the twisting hallways of the police station. Her heart slammed into her chest with every step and her palms slickened with sweat. And her knees—it was a good thing he was doing all the dragging, because they were shaking so hard she might not have been able to walk so well on her own.
Lucas Simone. The badass of the LA wolf pack.
She wondered if the detective knew just how close he’d come to serious injury.
You didn’t mess with a wolf. Shifters, in general, were considered wild because of the beasts they carried inside. Unpredictable. Five times stronger than humans. Senses—hearing, sight—more like an animal’s than a man’s.
Because they were more animal than man.
Shifters were part of the Other. Humans didn’t know it, but they were living in a nightmare. A world inhabited by vampires, demons, djinn—every creature imaginable and some that folks didn’t want to imagine.
The wolf shifters were said to be the worst. Too powerful. And quite often… insane. A not-so-nice little side perk of their genetics.
Oh, yeah, the detective had come close to—
Lucas shoved open the glass door at the entrance of the station. Nobody made the mistake of getting in his way.
Evening sunlight hit her hard. Sarah blinked, trying to adjust her eyes, but Lucas didn’t pause. The wolf just kept dragging her. Down the stone steps. Across the street, into the park that was overgrown with weeds, then back into the stretching shadows of the trees.
Uh, oh. Time to stop. Sarah wrenched her hand free.
The shifter turned on her with narrowed blue eyes.
All the moisture in her mouth dried up in an instant.
Lucas Simone was dangerous. One glance at his stony expression could tell any fool that. The guy was big, towering well over six feet, and muscled with wide shoulders. Freaking linebacker shoulders.
No way was he handsome. His face was all angles. His cheekbones were too sharp. His jaw too square, too hard. His lips were too thin, a little too cruel.
And his eyes were too hard, that fierce gaze saw too much.
No, Lucas Simone definitely wouldn’t classify as handsome, but Sarah really wasn’t the type to be swayed by a pretty face.
She was much more the I-need-a-freaking-badass-to-save-my-hide-right-now type.
“I should explain…” Sarah began, clearing her throat.
“Yeah, you should.” An order.
Her own eyes narrowed. “Uh, I think it’s important to note that I saved your hide back there.” Very, very important to note. In fact, she was wagering on the old wolf pack code to help her out. The I-Scratch-Your-Back, You-Protect-Mine code.
He grunted. “I didn’t need saving, babe.”
“Yes, you did.” The wolf would still be caged if it hadn’t been for her—and the folks she’d bribed. Using the last of my cash.
She needed shelter. Her growling stomach reminded her that she also needed food.
And she desperately needed some serious muscle.
Her gaze dropped down to his chest.
“We haven’t had sex, lover.” He drew the last out, more like a growl instead of a word.
Sarah couldn’t help it, she flushed. She felt her face heat and knew she had to be beet red. The curse of her fair skin. She always blushed too fast. “You were in jail. They were pinning a murder rap on you.” Facts that really shouldn’t have to be pointed out to the ungrateful wolf. Come on. Where was her thank you?
“I remember every woman I’ve had sex with,” he continued as if she hadn’t spoken. His hooded gaze swept over her, making her cheeks burn all the more. She’d dressed, deliberately chosen the sexy attire, before going down to the station. Her red blouse plunged to reveal the swell of her breasts. The short, black skirt revealed a long expanse of leg. Her sandals were small, wedged, and designed more to be sexy than serviceable.
He whistled slowly. “I don’t remember you.”
Right, and she didn’t buy for a minute that he remembered every woman he’d—
“Some women like to take things slow. They like to kiss, they like to stroke. Others like to strip, to fuck, as fast as possible.” A pause as his eyes rose back to hers. “They like it rough because they like the rush of being with a monster.”
She swallowed and took a quick step back, unable to help herself because Lucas looked very, very threatening.
“Are you one of those women?” He moved forward, closing that distance. His hand lifted and traced her cheek. “Do you like the thrill of walking on the wild side?”
Her heart was racing. Her knees were knocking again—well, okay, they’d never stopped. She licked her lips and managed, “No.”
His nostrils flared, and the grin that curved his lips was grim. “Liar.”
Oh, hell. Shifter senses. Some said their senses were acute enough to catch a lie. Not to actually smell a lie, but to hear the jerk of an increased heartbeat or to scent the sweat that broke through the skin at a lie.
“You’re turned on right now,” he told her, voice so rough that she almost shivered, “just like you were when we kissed outside that damn cage.”
Now what was she supposed to say to that? Especially since he was right?
His hand slid down her face and his fingers curled over her throat. His palm pushed against her pulse. He didn’t hurt her, not like he’d hurt the cop, but Sarah tensed, knowing just how dangerous he could be.
I saw the photos. He’s killed before. Without remorse. Fast, brutal. I know what he can do.
That was why she had come to him.
When a girl was caught between hell and a hard place, she needed the devil to help her out.
“Who are you?” He breathed the words against her. “Not some angel come to save me in my dark hour of need…”
Hardly. She managed to lift her chin. “Let go of me and I’ll tell you everything.” Almost everything. Okay, not even almost, but at least the important parts.
A deep laugh rumbled from him. “Think you’re tough, do you?” But his hand fell away.
She sucked in a sharp breath. Tough? Not anymore. “Sarah. I’m Sarah King.” Her name would tell him nothing. It wasn’t who she was that mattered. No, it was what she was.
“And what brought you to my cell, sweet Sarah?”
Now this was the tricky part. “I saw your story on the news.”
“And you decided to run down to the station and give a killer an alibi?” One brow rose. “What a Good Samaritan you are.” The sarcasm dripped all over her.
Her hands clenched into fists. “You didn’t kill John.”
Now he was the one to tense. “John,” he repeated the name softly. “You knew him.”
“Don’t lie.” The words snapped like a whip. “You might think you know about the supernaturals in this world, but you don’t. We’ve got secrets—secrets humans can’t even begin to guess.” His lips twisted. “I heard the way you said his name. You knew him.”
Yes, and she didn’t like thinking about John’s death. “You didn’t kill him,” she repeated.
“And how do you know that?” He looked around them, his gaze sweeping to the left and the right.
They probably shouldn’t stay out in the open much longer. Sarah knew she had to make this quick. She had to get Lucas to take her with him and to keep her by his side. Day and night.
Sarah exhaled slowly. “John was at your house because he wanted protection.” True.
“He was being hunted, and he knew that you could keep him safe.” Knew, hoped—same thing.
If only Lucas had been home in those early hours before dawn. Then her friend wouldn’t be dead, dammit, and she wouldn’t be on her own again.
Life sucks. Deal with it—and try to keep living. Her mantra since she was seventeen.
“Keep him safe… from what?”
A twig snapped. Sarah jumped but Lucas didn’t move.
“Squirrel,” he said softly, without even looking.
She was nervous as all hell. It was starting to get dark, and she knew exactly what kinds of creatures came out once the darkness trickled across the sky. “We should go… get out of the open.”
He didn’t move. “I’m not the running type.”
If you were one of the baddest of the bad, you didn’t have to run. You could stay and fight and kick some good ol’ ass.
But, if you were human or… a weaker supernatural, you learned early that it paid to run. And run fast.
“Tell me what’s going on,” Lucas demanded. “Why was that guy—John—coming to me for protection?” A line pulled down his eyebrows, and his right hand rose to rub along the jagged edge of his ear. “Pack protects pack, but that wasn’t shifter blood dripping down my steps.”
She flinched. Be strong. Life sucks, just like vampires. Yeah, vamps were real, too. All the monsters that people feared—they existed.
Lucas’s hand dropped. “He was human.”
“No, he wasn’t.” Time for her big confession. “And neither am I.” Okay, just say it. “Lucas, I need you to—”
His nostrils flared. Then he jerked her behind him in a move she barely felt, much less saw. “Lucas? What—”
“We’re not alone.”
She heard the growl. The hair-raising sound came from the thicket of trees that Lucas faced, hands loose at his sides, his body still.
Darkness hadn’t fallen yet.
But it looked like the monsters had decided it was time to come out and play.