Edge of Craving:Primal Instincts 00

By: Rhyannon Byrd

Prequel - Primal Instincts– Book 00





CHAPTER ONE


Southern Wales, early 1800’s

How could such an angelic smile be cast upon a monster?

The whispered words wormed their way through Rhys’s mind as he watched Alia Buchanan, daughter of the Merrick scholar he’d been charged to protect, make her way across the flagstone-covered courtyard. A lavender twilight was falling heavily over the hilltop where the ivy-covered Buchanan cottage sat nestled amidst the surrounding forest, the autumn air scented with the compelling blend of wood smoke and a distant storm rumbling on the horizon. Smoky shafts of purple and blue touched their fingers to the delicate angles of the young woman’s face, lingering over the gentle swell of her breasts…the long, flowing locks of her hair. If he wanted to retain his sanity, Rhys knew he needed to look away. And yet his eyes refused to obey the command, riveted to the sight of her mysterious expression as their gazes locked, then held, that soft, breathtaking smile still curving the sensual shape of her mouth.

No matter how distant he tried to be—no matter how rude or how savagely he scowled and glared—she always gifted him with that same goddamn, infuriating smile. And it was slowly driving him out of his mind, the threads of his sanity slipping through his fingers like spiraling streams of mist. No matter how hard he struggled, he could not catch them in his grasp.

Since the moment he’d first been introduced to Alia, Rhys had been obsessed with her. An unusual situation for a warrior who had never found himself fascinated with anything or anyone, much less a whimsical slip of a girl he could too easily break beneath his power and his strength. The Merrick blood of her ancestors—one of the original ancient, nonhuman clans—had been dormant in her bloodline for generations, leaving Alia and her father with bodies that were as vulnerable as any human’s. It was madness for him to even contemplate touching her, much less for him to fantasize about her to the point that she was a constant, aching presence within his mind.

But he couldn’t stop. And God only knew that he’d tried.

If it had simply been her physical appearance that enthralled him, he could have found a way to see reason and put her out of his thoughts. After all, he’d always been of the opinion that one pretty face could be easily replaced by another. But there was so much more to the pull that kept drawing him to Alia, despite how hard he tried to resist. She was too intoxicating…too fresh. He could only marvel at how she viewed the world, seeing it in a way that he was sure no one else did. Seeing it through eyes that could pierce and penetrate, slipping beneath even the most hardened, belligerent defenses. That was how he felt now, holding her dark blue gaze, the uncomfortable sensation swarming through his veins, giving him the impression that she could see him in a way that no one else ever would.

He’d have attributed the odd sensation to the fact that she was descended on her mother’s side from a powerful line of Reavess witches, but knew that it was more than that. There was something about Alia herself that resonated with him, allowing her to slip under his guard, drawing his attention again and again. Consuming his waking moments. Tormenting his dreams.

Despite the coldness in his soul, her smiles always swept through the icy depths of Rhys’s body like intoxicating, melting waves of heat, igniting a dangerous craving for things he could never have. With nothing more than that soft tilting of her mouth, the longing sincerity of her beautiful gaze, she warmed a place within him that had never been more than a barren, desolate sheet of ice. Ironic, really, considering he was a thing of fire himself. As one of the few remaining descendants of the Charteris, one of the original and rare European dragon clans, Rhys’s body held the power to become a lethal source of heat. A dangerous, deadly power that only intensified as his attraction to a woman grew stronger—and one that was capable of melting Alia Buchanan alive if he were to ever sink inside the lush, delicate depths of her feminine little body.

He craved her. Craved everything about her, from her scent to her taste to the thoughts that filled her head.

And that was why he couldn’t have her.

She was forbidden fruit that was going to get him into trouble, and he knew it. Had known it from the second he’d first laid eyes upon her five months ago, when he’d been sent to oversee her father’s protection. And yet Rhys could not take his gaze from her lithe, graceful form as she walked across the courtyard where he and four of his men had been vigorously training.

How in God’s name was he supposed to stop watching the sweetest, most beautiful thing he’d ever seen? Heart-shaped face. Impish freckles. Light brown hair that couldn’t decide between golden honey and autumn red. She was beautiful and wild, like an ancient goddess come to life. Her slim, winged brows swept over big, exotic eyes of a deep dark blue that reminded him of clear mountain skies. Full, pink mouth that made a man’s mind slip into explicit imaginings of what it would be like to sink past those glistening lips and seek the damp, warm heat within.

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