Touch of Seduction:Primal Instinct 04

By: Rhyannon Byrd

Primal Instinct – Book 4





CHAPTER ONE


Lennox, Kentucky

Friday night

SOMEONE SMELLED GOOD. No, better than good. Someone smelled downright sinful. And as the warm, womanly, mouthwatering scent filled his head, Aiden Shrader began thinking that his current assignment was an even bigger mistake than he’d thought it would be. After all, he was standing on a human female’s doorstep at nine o’clock at night, ready to tell her that she was now under his protection, for God only knew how long, whether she liked it or not. And he was probably going to have to toss in the fact that he wasn’t just an armed, badass-looking bodyguard set on keeping her and her three-year-old niece alive, but a shape-shifter, as well. One who could take the form of a massive, deadly predator. An actual tiger-shifter, to be precise.

Oh, yeah, he thought, pushing his windblown hair back with one tattooed hand while the bitter December night twined itself around his long body like a cold, clinging lover. There isn’t a chance in hell that little tidbit is going to go down well.

Aiden and his colleagues didn’t know how much Olivia Harcourt’s stepsisters had told her about the world of preternatural creatures who lived hidden among humanity, the various races collectively referred to as “the ancient clans.” And since they also didn’t know how much she might have been told about the Watchmen—the organization of shape-shifters that Aiden belonged to, whose job it was to watch over the remaining clansmen—there was a good chance the chick was probably going to run screaming, hell-bent for leather, the instant he laid things out for her. She might even run the second she set eyes on him. Not that he’d blame her, if she was the skittish type. At nearly six and a half feet, packed with long, solid muscle and sporting a multitude of tattoos and shaggy hair that he hadn’t bothered to cut in months, Aiden was used to sending some women running for cover. They either loved what they saw or didn’t stick around long enough to discover if the “bad boy” was really as wicked as he looked.

The simple fact was that some women had a taste for danger…and some didn’t. Aiden had never cared much, one way or another, seeing as how his interest in the female gender remained purely physical—his inner animal far easier to control when he kept it sated. The only rules he lived by were that he never messed around with a woman unless she understood exactly how much he was willing to offer, that she was built to handle a hard ride and that she didn’t touch the darker, more primal aspects of his nature.

Of the three, that last rule was by far the most important, and now he had to face the unsavory realization that someone in that goddamn house smelled good enough to arouse the dangerous, possessive hungers of his beast…and he was going to be so screwed because of it.

Aiden half prayed the mouthwatering scent didn’t belong to the Harcourt woman, but doubted he would be that lucky. Pulling his hand down his face, he stifled a frustrated snarl and figured he might as well stop stalling and get on with it. As the wind stretched a dark, ominous string of clouds across the hazy glow of the moon, he lifted his right hand and banged his fist against the front door of the brick two-story. While he waited impatiently for someone to answer, he silently cursed the fact that he needed to get laid, in a bad way, while doing his best to convince himself that he was reacting to that scent only because he’d been forced to live like a monk for too many weeks. He wasn’t the type of man to go without, his primal instincts constantly driving his sexual hungers to an urgent, aggressive level, but it was bloody hard to pick up women in the middle of a war. He’d been so busy in the past month, most nights he just collapsed into bed and didn’t move until it was time to get up and start all over again the next day.

Not that the Merrick and the Watchmen were making a lot of progress. Though the Merrick were one of the most powerful of the ancient clans, their bloodline had been dormant for centuries, until the recent return of the Casus and the beginnings of the war. A vile race of immortal creatures who’d been imprisoned over a thousand years ago for their crimes against humanity and the other clans, the Casus had somehow begun escaping from Meridian—the metaphysical holding ground that served as their prison—and returning to this world. The first had returned at the end of the summer, with more and more following in recent months. They were now hunting down the Merrick, one by one, exacting a bloodthirsty revenge against their ancient enemy.

As a result of the Casus’s return, the Merrick blood within the original clan’s descendants was awakening, and some Merrick, like the Buchanans, were now waging a fight against the monsters, along with the help of the Watchmen. Ian Buchanan had actually been the first Merrick to be awakened, and thanks to Ian’s sister, Saige, it was the Buchanans’ and Shrader’s Watchmen unit who were conducting the search for the Dark Markers. As the only known weapons that could destroy a Casus’s soul and send it to hell, the Markers were invaluable in their fight against the Casus. The mysterious crosses had been hidden across Europe and the Americas in order to keep them from falling into the wrong hands, and Aiden and his friends were doing everything they could to track them down. But it wasn’t enough. Despite the fact that they’d now managed to find five of the hidden Markers, giving up only one to the enemy, their side was losing the war—and Aiden wasn’t a man who liked to lose. He’d spent too many years under the thumb of his enemies when he was younger. Now, at the age of thirty-four, he was a man who liked to fight hard and come out on top, no matter what it took to get there. He’d been working his ass off to make sure that he and his friends were going to end this conflict as the victors, and he wanted to be out in the field, continuing the fight. Not acting as a goddamn babysitter.

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