Shiloh Walker

Let me tell you a story…

Shiloh Walker - Let me tell you a story…

Hunter’s Need

Book 12

HIS CHALLENGE

Duke is bitter. A shapeshifter betrayed by the psychic powers of Analise Morell, he cannot forgive her for putting him in the clutches of a feral vampire, but he also can’t shake his desire for her. And when she needs a Hunter, Duke must face his demons—and hers…

HER MISSION

Desperate voices are battering Ana’s psychic shields. A serial killer with extraordinary powers is about to strike again, and the tormented souls of his previous victims are screaming for her help. But Ana can’t understand why they want her…

Their INSATIABLE desire

After what she did to him, Ana is sure Duke must be using her…but if he is, so be it. Ana can’t fight her longing for him, can’t fight the desire that’s haunted her for years. For Duke, every fiber of his soul—both the man and the cougar within—yearns to protect and possess her.…

With her eyes and her heart heavy, she turned down the gravel drive and trudged towards her apartment.  She kicked a small rock and sent it flying. Absently, she lowered her gaze, watched as it came to a stop a few inches away.  Kicked it again.  Again—

A pair of booted foot appeared in her line of vision and a hand caught her arm.  Hissing out a breath, she reacted instinctively, jabbing towards the neck with her free hand and lifted her foot.  But before she could smash it down on the man’s instep, he moved.

Moved too quick—

She found herself whirled around, her back pressed up against a hard male body.  Panic welled.

“Ana!”

That voice—

She stilled, sucked in a breath.  As she did, the panic inside her started to ease, her body relaxed, before she even realized why.

She could smell him…and she knew that smell.

Licking her lips, she whispered, “Duke?”

He let her go, quick, as though he couldn’t stand to have his hands on her, and she figured he probably couldn’t.  Instinctively, she tightened her shields, unwilling to pick anything up from him.  Even if she deserved to have his disgust with her filling her head, she’d rather not, thanks very much.  Edging away, she turned and looked at him.

The sight of him hit her straight in her core, a punch of heat that left her legs weak and her skin tight and itchy.  She let go of her carryon and folded her arms across her middle.  “What are you doing here?”

“Whatever in the hell the problem is, it isn’t important enough to keep you from taking off for a weekend?”  He glanced down at the carryon and then up at her face.

Ana narrowed her eyes.  “You’re the damn Hunter, not me.  Playing avenging angel, guardian angel, that’s your business, not mine.” Exhaustion, unrequited lust, and fear were sheer hell on a person’s willpower, she realized, clamping her mouth shut before she could say anything else.

“So you got no problem announcing that there’s a problem, but then disappearing?”

“You told me to handle it myself, if I recall correctly.” She almost said something else, but decided it against it.  Almost told him that she’d tried and utterly failed.  It didn’t matter.  He was here now, he could handle it.  Hooray for him.  No reason for her to sink another couple hundred dollars into this mess, no reason to take off personal time and try to handle something that was way beyond her reach, no reason to lay awake at night, afraid to sleep because she feared the nightmares.

Let him deal with this bullshit.  That’s what he was supposed to do.

Aren’t you feeling bitchy today? she thought darkly.  Without another word, she grabbed the handle of her carryon and headed towards the staircase by the garage door.

“Yeah, taking off when things get dicey, that’s your way of handling things,” he said, sardonically, following along behind her.

Too close, too.  She could feel him, feel that big, warm body, the heat he put off, shadowing along close enough that he just lifted a hand, he’d touch her.  Halfway the steps, she stopped and shot him a narrow look over her shoulder.  “What are you doing?”

“Following you.  What are you doing?”

“I’m going to my apartment.  I’m tired.  I want to take a shower and go to bed.”

He glanced over her shoulder towards the door at the top of the stairs.  “Sorry, princess but you go some explaining to do before you can go to bed.”

“Explaining.”  Ana sighed and then started back up the steps.  She’d already tried explaining to him and he’d mocked her, laughed at her.  Told her to handle it herself and she’d tried, failed miserably, and now he was here.  Hell, that had likely been his plan all along—get her worked up and then show up in the flesh and save the day.

Of course, she doubted he really would have expected her to actually try to handle it.  Abruptly, she was pissed.

Not just irritated, not just tired and grouchy, and not just edgy because she felt so damned guilty for what she’d done to him.  She’d made huge mistakes in her life, but damn it, she’d done her best to rectify them and she was sick and damned tired of having to pay for it in their eyes. Seething, she stormed up the rest of the stairs and jammed her key into the lock, undoing the lock with a vicious twist of her wrist.

He followed her inside and she shot him a dirty look as he dropped down on the couch, settling down with lazy, feline grace.

“Make yourself at home,” she drawled.  She left the carryon by the door and shut it, turning the lock on the doorknob and then the deadbolt.

“Those locks suck,” he said, flicking a glance at her door.

“I’ll make a note of it.”  Crossing her arms over her chest, she glared at him.  “Whatever you need me to explain, fine.  Ask away so I can explain and get your ass out of my home.”

A grin curled his lips.  “Ana, you’re swearing.  What’s got you so pissed?”

“I’m not pissed,” she lied.

“You know, even if you did do some kind of number on my instincts, I don’t know why in the hell I ever fell for any of your lines,” he mused, shaking his head.  “You’re a lousy liar.”

“I didn’t hand you lines.”  Then she wished she hadn’t said a damn thing.  The last thing she needed to do was think about ancient history, not when he was here.  Not when he was so close.  Not when he could smell every subtle change in her body, whether it was because she told a little white lie, or because her body went all hot and achy with need, getting worse with very damn second he was there.

“Sure you did.”  He came off the couch and paced towards her, that big, hard body all fluid, sexy grace and long, powerful muscles.  His golden hair fell around his face and his gray eyes glittered in the dim light.  “You fed me all sorts of lines and then I get a knife shoved into my chest and I wake up and find out the pretty blonde princess who had me twisted up inside was the puppet of a fucking psycho.  Maybe that’s the difference…when somebody’s pulling your strings you do just as you’re told.  Did Cat tell you to get hot for me?  Is that why you seemed to want me so bad?”

Stop it. Duke stared at her, watched as the blood drained from her face, leaving her pale, her haunted, dark purple eyes all but black.  Stop.

Cat was dead.  She didn’t fucking matter any more and if Ana was any kind of threat to them, every single last Hunter around would know.  She’d be watched—or already dead.  She wasn’t a threat and he knew it.  At least not that kind of threat.  Not any more.

The kind of threat she posed to him was a different story, but one didn’t really have anything to do with the other.

She’d screwed up and even Duke wasn’t so blind to the fact that she had tried to make amends.  She was guilty, never claimed otherwise, didn’t offer excuses or any other lame shit to try and help explain away what she’d done.  Even the more plausible reason—her fear for her brother, she never used that card.

If it was anybody but Ana, he probably even could have found some reluctant admiration.

But with Ana…

Even as he told himself to stop, to back away, find out what he needed to know and get the hell away from her, he couldn’t.  Even as he lifted a hand to touch her, curling it around her neck and tugging her close, he told himself to quit and he couldn’t.  “No answer, Ana?” he whispered, rubbing his thumb across her full lower lip.

Let it go—none of that matters.

Except it did.  It did matter, why she’d all but melted in his arms, melted around him, over him, so damned hot she’d almost burned him.  Had she really wanted him?  Or had it been because she had psycho-bitch pulling her strings?  How deep had Cat’s control on Ana gone?

She shook, her body all but vibrating.  She was afraid, he could scent it on her, but it wasn’t just fear.  His lids drooped over his eyes, a growl rumbling in his chest, as he realized he had his answer right there.

Ana didn’t have to say a damn thing.

She wanted him.  All but burned with it.

It was enough to make his mouth water and his cock swell. Enough to make him want to haul her against him and finish the dance they’d started five years earlier.  He didn’t, though.  Because of her fear. He didn’t like her being afraid of him.  Heat—he just wanted to smell heat coming off of her, just the desire.

“You’re hot now,” he whispered, lowering his head until his lips hovered just a breath away from hers.  “I can smell it, almost taste it.  Why are you so hot, princess?”

“Leave me alone, Duke.”

He should.  He knew he should.  He needed to back away, get the hell away from her, before the anger took control, before the hunger burning inside him flared too hot for him to handle, before it spilled out onto them and scorched them both.  Inside, he dipped his head and nuzzled her neck, breathed in the soft, warm scent of her.  She smelled of lavender, soft and subtle, something that clung to her hair and skin.

“You know something that’s eaten me up for the past five years?” he whispered, raking his teeth along the curve of her neck.  “Five years ago, I had you this close…this close to heaven and I would have done just about anything to get inside you.  This close…and then I realize I’m closer to hell than I am to heaven—and I never even had the chance to fuck you.  If you were going to send me to hell, Ana, you could have at least given me a send-off.”

“Duke…don’t.”

“Why not?” He straightened, staring down at her averted face.  He toyed with the top button of her shirt and wondered what she’d do, how she’d react if he bent his head and tore the buttons off with his teeth.  “Why shouldn’t I touch you?  You want me.  You can’t lie about that.”

She reached up and caught his wrist and shoved him away.

He let her, although he was tempted not to.  And when she stepped back, he let her, even though he didn’t want to.  “Why shouldn’t I touch you?” he asked again, his voice low, harsh with the hunger tearing into him.

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