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“You shouldn’t have left her that way.”

“I know I stood her up, and I’m sorry for that. But Christ! It’s not like I’m the first man to do something thoughtless. Why the fucking drama?”

His clan leader turned fully his way, and his eyes flashed dragon-gold. “Don’t act like you don’t know!” Drayce growled. “Eadlin’s right. You are a bastard. I thought you better than that.”

Frustration threatened to blow his head off. “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, damn it.” Trying to calm down, he took a deep, measured breath. “Drayce—”

And just like that, everything in his world changed.

The scent was delicious, amazing, something he’d never forget, and one he’d crave for the rest of his life. Sweet and spicy, cool and hot, it was a mixture of—he took another, even deeper breath—mint and cinnamon, with maybe just a touch of…

He blinked in surprise as he recognized it. “Wasabi,” he murmured as the fiery heat of his favorite Japanese spice tickled his nostrils. Mint and cinnamon and wasabi? His forever mate’s scent was truly unique.

He waited for it. For the overwhelming urge to seek and hunt his mate. And he wasn’t disappointed. It hit him hard, almost sending him to his knees. He wished fleetingly that there were no humans in the crowd so he could shift and discover her right then and there. Passion spread through his body like a warm, tingling stream, touching his cock with phantom fingers and making him groan aloud.

Then the beast within him suddenly came alive, shredding his insides in its demands to be freed to find the female. Desire was abruptly painful, and the deep breaths he took while fighting the creature only made things worse. He battled it back, just as he knew Drayce had done, but he hadn’t realized how strong…how intense the need of his dragon would be. It fought like a demon to escape the bonds of Ryuu’s control.

“Ryuu!” He felt Drayce shake his shoulder. “What the hell?”

“My…turn,” he managed, glancing at his leader with glowing eyes. Barely keeping to his feet, he swiftly turned his back to the room. It was the only way to keep the humans from seeing the obvious change in his features. “She is here.”

“Shit!” Drayce pulled Eadlin close as if getting her out of the way of the violence he knew was possible. “Your forever mate? She’s here?”

“Now?” Eadlin stared at him, a mixture of joy and anger in her eyes. “You’ve found her now? Are you sure?”

He nodded, still fighting not to shift and hunt. “I am very…sure.”

“Oh, God,” whispered Eadlin. “Poor Lucina.”

The very thought of his former lover speared through him like a sword. For a brief moment pain pushed aside the passion. “I’m sorry. But…”

“I’m glad you’ve found her,” Eadlin whispered, a tear tracing down her cheek, “but I hate you for what you’re going to do to my friend.”

Regret mingled with the other emotions, but as the scent of his forever mate grew stronger, his tenuous control on his dragon diminished. “I don’t have time for this. I am barely hanging on. I have to find her.”

“Looking for someone, handsome?”

He whipped around at the sound of Lucina’s voice. The scent of his mate was overwhelming until he was hit full face with a splash of icy cold liquid. Then all he could smell was beer.


Blinking the beer out of his eyes, he ignored Eadlin’s cry and focused on the woman standing before him. She was as beautiful as he remembered, all sultry peaches and cream, but instead of warm passion-filled eyes, Lucina’s were filled with such anger and disgust, he took a wary step back.

“You bloody bastard,” she snarled at him. “Fucking asshole. You gormless, barmy, repulsive git!”

The whole room went silent, and his passion and need were abruptly banked. Whether it was the malty smell of beer or the pain and fury on Lucina’s face, he didn’t know, but even his dragon turned tail and curled into a ball. Apparently his beast knew better than to face this angry female. “Lucina—”

“Don’t even speak to me, you despicable degenerate.” Stepping closer, she stabbed her finger into his chest. “How could you do that to me? You liar. You cretin. You revolting excuse for a man.”

“Wait,” Drayce interjected. “I know he fucked up, but this isn’t the place.”

Lucina turned on him so quickly, Drayce put his hands up in surrender. “Don’t you dare stand up for him. He’s a miserable, lying prick!”

“Lucina!” Eadlin gasped. “Language.”

“You think I care?” Swinging back to Ryuu, she slapped him. Once, twice, a third time. But he refused to protect himself. Not when he saw the tears in her eyes. If she cried, he was a goner.

“I don’t think our guests need a free show,” Drayce tried again. “Calm down. This isn’t the place. After the ceremony you can talk about what happened in the alley and—”

Talk?” All three of them flinched at the absolute fury in Lucina’s voice. “You think I want to talk to him about that?”

“What alley?” Ryuu asked, but got another slap for his trouble.

“You bastard,” she hissed. “You think I care right now that you left me to die in a stinking alley because you couldn’t be bothered to keep a fucking date?”

“Die?” His heart stopped. “What—”

She waved his concern away. “I don’t give a tinker’s damn about that.”

“Then why,” came Eadlin’s gentle voice, “are you so angry?”

“Because,” Lucina almost shrieked, “I just found out that the night we were together at the Christmas party, he used me to cheat on his fiancé!”


***end of excerpt***



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