Blissful Agony, страница 1
Others of Edenton: Book 7
Brandy L Rivers
Copyright 2015 Brandy L Rivers
Cover Design by Brandy L Rivers
Edited by Shaner Media Creations
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Also by Brandy L Rivers
Others of Edenton
In Too Deep
Shadows of the Past
Falling Into Place
Labor of Love
Light in Darkness
Entangled Darkness (Coming Spring 2016)
Others of Seattle
Coming Together (12-22-2015)
Nights Embrace Spin Off
Stand Alone Contemporary Romance
Heart on Fire
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Table of Contents
About Brandy L Rivers
Preview: Coming Together
Mom, you are amazing
I have always looked up to you
You raised us to be independent and strong
Never to take shit from anyone
I love you always
Thank you for all your support
Clint’s heart pounded in his chest, in time with his heavy footfalls. The adorably sexy mage with the tight little rear had set out to torture him. He couldn’t resist the extra time with her, even if it killed him.
Much further and his ass was going to straight up fall the fuck off. Miles, the woman ran him miles. Once upon a time he thought he loved to run. Now? He was about to pass out.
Emily glanced over her shoulder, her blond ponytail bouncing when she offered a smile on her glossy pink lips. Despite exhaustion, his dick popped back up as her eyes darted forward again.
Blue balls had never been his preferred way to suffer.
Next thing he knew, they were slowing to a jog as they left the trail and came up beside her BMW Z4. He doubled over, then dropped to his knees, kissing the ground.
“You did amazing,” Emily praised.
“I’m gonna die,” Clint panted, sitting back on his knees, meeting her warm chocolate eyes.
Crouching down in front of him, she offered a bottle of water from the trunk. Light danced through her expression.
His angel to the rescue—fending off dehydration.
“Nah. There are easier ways to kill you.” She winked. “Besides, your arm isn’t ready for sparring, no matter what you think. That poison…” She shook her head, a grimace tugging at her lips. “It slowed the mending down. You keep telling me to let it heal naturally. But I can fix it, if you’d trust me.” She referred to the Komodo dragon shifter who poisoned him when she shattered his arm while trying to bite it off.
Emily’s brow arched as she stood up and offered her hand.
He took it with a strained smile. “I trust you. It’s magic I don’t trust.” He stood without help, even though he enjoyed her soft skin against his palm.
“My magic put your arm back together again,” she countered, with sass. Every time they hung out, she had more spunk, offered more smiles, and generally warmed to him. For the first time he found himself patiently waiting for a woman to choose him. Six months of waiting and he couldn’t get her out of his head. Clint wanted to spend as much time with her as possible, which sparked the harebrained plan to coax her into a date.
Putting his hands up in surrender, he grinned. “Okay, okay. If you’ll let me take you on a proper date, you can heal my arm the rest of the way.” Besides, he was mostly kidding where his lack of trust was concerned. And her exhaustive trail runs were about the only way he wrangled one-on-one time with her outside the clinic or running into her in town.
She bit down on her bottom lip, looking away. Before he could take the request back, she met his gaze. “One condition.” Her eyes sparked with determination.
His mouth fell open as he blinked, ready to give her the world for a single chance. “What’s that?”
“The first few times you spar, I’m there to make sure you’re in one piece when you’re done.”
He nodded, gathering his words, then froze. If she agreed in order to heal him, he didn’t want to go through with it. “Em, if you can’t, I’ll understand. You could come hang out with me and the crew. Get to know me better. I crave some time with you, but I think you know that by now. I’m not pushing for more than you’re ready to give.”
“I trust you, Clint.” Those four words sparked hope.
“Never in a million years would I ever push you. I get it. Whatever happened in your past tore you apart. But, you know what? You’re stronger now because of it. I’ve been there. So even if you never see me romantically, I make a pretty good friend.” Though he desperately wanted to earn her trust so they could have more.
“I want the date. But I have to warn you, if we ever—touch, I have to be in control. If you take over, and… and…” her gaze skated away before sliding back with a pinched brow, “um… do your wolfy dominant thing, I’ll bolt.”
He laughed. “In bed, I’m very submissive. I want to be dominated.” His eyes rounded as he put his hands up, realizing he’d said too much. “Sorry, we aren’t going straight there. I’m saying you have all the time in the world, and if we ever get there, it will be on your terms, not mine.”
One corner of her mouth tipped up, a devilish glint behind her eyes. “And if I’m never ready?” she asked seductively.
His cock twitched, hoping she was teasing. “Then you aren’t, and
She gave his arm a pointed look. “Now, may I heal you?”
He wet his lips, nodding slowly as he stretched out his bandage-wrapped limb. The bone was set properly, but weak.
One of her small hands took his, the other wrapped around his wrist. Her chocolate eyes turned molten bronze as she chanted under her breath.
Magic flowed from her touch. A thousand butterfly wings flapping against his arm as the pain he hadn’t noticed melted away, taking the ache with it.
Normally, a snarky comment would roll off his tongue, but the connection between them flared, pulling him closer to her. Rocking back on his heels, he took a deep breath and stopped himself from reaching out to touch her face.
“Thank you,” he murmured, awed by the gentleness in his own voice.
Blinking slowly, her eyes rose to his, fading back to the warm brown hue. “You’re welcome. And I’m free whenever you want to go on that date.”
He couldn’t help teasing. “Em, you’re in control here. When do you want to go?”
A confident smile lit her face. “Tonight. You can pick me up at seven, and take me to In 2 Deep.”
“Are you staying at your apartment today?” She had a home in Seattle, but seemed to stay in her Edenton apartment more and more often.
Or mine, he thought, before reprimanding himself. If they got there, great. If not, he’d survive, blue balls and all.
* * * *
Ecstatic, Emily beamed. Clint let her heal him. For a date. One she’d been slowly building the courage to ask about for more than a month. Men in general scared her, thanks to her late brother. But Clint made her heart skip, in a happy way. He made her feel sexy, desired—things she never enjoyed before.
Typically, males were pushy, dominant, and too hands-on. In the six months she’d known Clint, he’d never made a move to touch her. He talked to her, flirted, and was genuinely interested in all she had to say.
Didn’t take the fear away, but it became more a thrill of excitement. The question was, could she allow herself to trust a man? Emily wanted to believe she could, and had since the second she laid eyes on him.
Uncomfortable, out of place, and generally miserable, Emily sat at an empty picnic table, watching her brother with Liz and Tremaine at Fallon’s engagement party. Emily only knew a few people there. She had never felt truly welcome at parties, preferring isolation.
“This seat taken?” a warm voice asked.
She looked up to fall deep into spring green eyes. His brown hair was short, messy. He wasn’t much taller than her, lean muscles, so much less intimidating than the other werewolves. Her stomach fluttered as she admired a man for the first time because she was usually too afraid to notice how they looked.
Her breath caught as she blinked in confusion. Something unfurled, drawing her undivided attention and managing to calm the quiet fear that hummed along the edges.
His smile dimmed slightly as he took a step back. “I apologize. Enjoy the party.” Such a sad expression covered his face as he turned away.
“Wait,” she whispered, then cleared her throat. “Wait, please, sit.” She froze, realizing she’d invited a man to sit beside her. Panic didn’t hit. In fact, she felt a warmth flow through her.
“I’m Emily. You are?” Her voice held a strength she didn’t realize she possessed.
Instead of offering his hand, he gave her a pleasant smile. “Evening, Emily. I’m Clint. Never seen you here before.”
She nodded toward Robert. “That’s my brother over there, Robert. I’ve known Tremaine and Liz most of my life.”
“They’re good people. I’m sorry I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you until now.”
“I live across the country, though I’m thinking about moving closer. Things are sort of up in the air at the moment.”
“Then I hope I’ll see you around more.” His gaze held interest and comfort, tempting her to scoot closer. She held her position, perched at the end of the bench, but leaned toward him.
“What do you do?”
“I’m one of the pack enforcers. During the day I build homes with my buddy over there.” He nodded to a handsome blond man. “He’s another enforcer.”
“So, you’re a werewolf?”
He glanced away with a nod. “You’re a mage. Right?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, don’t take offense,” she pleaded, hoping he wouldn’t dismiss her offhand. “I’m merely curious, and not very comfortable with being social.” Her eyes squinched shut.
“It’s okay, Emily. No offense taken. I’ll admit, I worried you would reject me for being a wolf.”
She shook her head. “Not at all.”
He turned toward her and she wanted to drown in his eyes. “Want to know more about Edenton? With your brother here, I imagine you could use a friend to show you around, or at least give you a verbal tour.”
“Would love that,” she admitted, falling into the easy, not too detailed conversation. The first real one with a stranger she could recall enjoying.
“Em,” he said softly, pulling her out of her thoughts and back into the present. Finally, she could admit she wanted to take an honest chance with Clint.
“Sorry, mind’s wandering.”
A grin spread on his face. “That’s okay, I enjoy your sunny smile. Hopefully you were thinking about me,” he teased lightly.
“The day we met.” Blushing, she glanced down at the arm she’d healed a moment before and changed the topic. “Don’t need this anymore.” She unhooked the bandage and rolled it as she unwrapped the limb. His hand hung in the air, tempting her to lean forward, into his touch, but nerves kept her feet rooted to their spot.
He drew a slow breath, the corners of his mouth lifting. “Thank you.”
Nodding, she met his light green eyes. He was nothing like his reputation, at least around her. He’d been sweet and attentive. Her eyes dropped to his lips and she found herself craving a taste.
With a mental shake, she hooked the bandage in a roll and nodded to the car. “Come on, let’s get you back.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He saluted.
Laughing, she climbed into the driver’s seat as he walked to the passenger side. Easing into the vehicle, he looked over with a charming smile and her toes curled, anticipating a touch she knew wouldn’t come.
Her head was a mess. Craving him, afraid of him, needing more than the sweet smile and playful flirting. Sometimes she thought that if he reached out to rest his hand on hers, she could handle it. Other times, she saw the hungry look in his eyes and wanted to run. Away from him, or to him, she didn’t know which. At the moment, she found herself leaning toward him.
Curiosity got the better of her as she started the car. “You really don’t like control?”
He shook his head. “No. You can blame my old pack for that. You don’t want to hear that story though.”
Part of her wanted his whole history. The rest of her knew all about wanting to lock away memories. “You can tell me anything.”
He looked away. “I did my share of talking about it. Never helped. I’m not that lost boy anymore. I know what I will and won’t do. But if you ever need an ear, I’ll lend you mine. For anything, Emily.”
She gripped the wheel tighter. “Don’t want to think about my past, let alone talk about my private hell. It’s all over now.”
He nodded. “I’ll be whatever you need me to be. My goal is time with you. You brighten the dark corner hiding in my soul.” He looked over with a sad smile.
Pulling onto the road, she took the left hand that rested on his leg and pulled it to the console with hers. A careful beginning. “I believe you. Somehow, you chase away my fears. But I’m not sure what I’m ready for yet.”
“Been there,” he answered, giving her hand a gentle squeeze.
She drove faster than she should have, back to Edenton. A buzz started in her ears, and then Clint’s arm whipped out, pinning her in the seat
The crunch of metal, screech of tires, and smell of burning rubber flooded her senses before it all went dark.
Clint growled in anger as Emily’s head slammed into the window. She went out like a light as spider web cracks filled the pane. Metal ground and squealed, claiming his attention.
A blast from the past stepped out of the Humvee. Ava’s dark eyes locked on his as a cruel smile twisted her lips. Fear travelled down his spine. She haunted many of his nightmares. The worst of which was the night he first set eyes on her.
Sixteen years ago, he stepped into the cold night air outside of Fred’s Market. His skin crawled as he scanned the parking lot, then quickly hurried to his battered Pinto. After his mom skipped town, leaving him alone, he managed to get a job and keep the bills paid, barely squeaking by.
A woman, clearly older by at least a few years, smiled as she approached. Every hair stood on end as he avoided her gaze and tried to slip his key into the lock.
“You look famished. Come to dinner with me,” she purred, closing the distance.
Heat radiated off her despite the cool autumn breeze. “Sorry, on my way to my girlfriend’s.”
“Don’t you want a real woman to show you how to be a man?”
His creep meter had its needle buried in the red. “No thanks. I’m fine being a kid.”
Before he could open the door, her hand wrapped around his throat, nearly crushing his windpipe as she picked him up and carried him to her SUV.
Clint clawed at her fingers, trying to pry her death grip loose as he kicked at her shins. He was thrown into the backseat, and twisted, trying to scramble out the opposite door, but it wouldn’t open.
A growl sent a chill down his spine as he turned and came face-to-face with a monstrous wolf. Her jaws clamped down on his face as her paws knocked him back. She tore at his stomach while he screamed, then savagely bit at his arms when he tried to hit her in the face.