HEAT

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Chapter 3: Captured

**Three Years Later**

Hycinth (age 18)

“Lucky...” I groaned, sounding a bit too close to a whine for my preference. I cleared my throat and began again, edging my voice with firmness, “Luca Diamonte, you need to pull yourself together. We have clients in less than an hour.”

A muffled voice came from behind the bathroom door, “Patience, Cinn.”

Growling under my breath, I turned on my heel and paced into our small kitchen. Coffee was clearly necessary today. I placed the single-use pod inside the Keurig and settled my favorite mug—white with black polka dots and a startling orange and red chrysanthemum flower—on the little stand. I set the machine to brew. Two minutes later, my coffee was ready, and Lucky wandered into the kitchen. I gathered the mug and climbed onto a tall stool next to the granite island.

Dressed in his usual attire of dark jeans and a T-shirt, he smelled fresh and clean. The scent of his shower gel hit my nose, spicy and aromatic. I breathed in the familiar smell, my brain automatically making the connection to home. Lucky was my only home now. My only family.

I couldn’t help worrying about him. “You got in late last night,” I began the conversation, letting my words linger in the air.

He opened a cabinet and pulled out a jumbo-sized box of Froot Loops, and then made his way to the refrigerator to get a gallon of milk. Tucking the box under his arm, he used his free hand to open the drawer and snatched out a spoon, before joining me on the island. “Yeah, she wanted round two. Or was it round three?” he said, absentmindedly. He poured cereal into the bowl.

I rolled my eyes. So, not, what I needed to hear. Clasping my mug in both hands, I blew gently. The steam dissipated into the air. “Do you even know this one’s name?”

His lips curled into a smirk. He shoveled a large spoonful of cereal into his mouth, milk dribbling from his lip. “Of course, its Sandra...or Sarah...or something close to that.” His eyes danced with humor, fully embracing the manwhore that he was.

How did he even speak with that large of a mouthful of food? I shook my head and snorted in disgust, appalled, both at his table manners and, even more, his revolting sexual escapades.

Of course, it wasn’t all Lucky’s fault. At least the sex part, not the lack of basic table etiquette that most people employed. Women threw themselves at him on a daily basis. Human females didn’t stand a chance. Not with a virile predator Wolf in their midst. His animal magnetism was too much for them to resist. And Luca indulged all of their wanton fantasies, liberally and thoroughly, as if it were his second job.

I sipped my coffee, licking the extra droplets from my lips. “Lucky, you need to be careful. You don’t want to break the wrong girl’s heart. Or worse, accidentally knock up one of them with a pup.” We’d had this conversation more than once. I understood women and how needy and disillusioned they could be. He might be clear about his intentions upfront, but that didn’t mean they listened or believed him.

“You know I’m always careful, mom. I’m just doing my civic responsibility to keep the female population happy. And it’s Whiskey to you,” he reminded me, referring to his alternate identity.

“You’ll always be Lucky to me,” I grumbled. “Why you chose that name, I’ll never know. And why Daddy allowed it, I’ll never understand.” Except, I did understand. My parents had adopted Luca when he was just a little orphan pup, his mother, and father, both casualties of war.

Daddy loved Luca like a son. And more often than not, had spoiled him, even letting him pick such a ridiculous name when he prepared our alternate identities. Maybe, it was because he never really assumed we’d have to use them, I thought sadly.

“Whiskey is an awesome-as-fuck name,” Lucky retorted, continuing to wolf down his breakfast.

I huffed, “Not when we’re supposed to be staying under the radar. Flaunting a name like Whiskey Cole is just begging for someone to question whether or not it’s real.”

He ignored my statement, adding more cereal to his bowl. “Who’s comin’ in this morning?”

“Tommy and Leroy.” I stood, taking my empty coffee cup to the dishwasher.

Luca’s lip curled up into a snarl. “I don’t like how he looks at you.”

“He’s harmless. You know that. I’m in no danger from any human male.”

“It doesn’t matter. All that bastard does is stare at your tits the entire time.”

I found my eyeballs rolling toward the top of my head again. I was a trained daughter of an Alpha. I could chew up and spit out any human male. Lucky bordered on being too protective.

I couldn’t help teasing him.

I was wearing a low cut cobalt blue singlet over top of a push-up bra, revealing quite a bit of my ample cleavage—portraying every bit the part of the badass tattoo artist I was. I grabbed the sides of my breasts and pushed them up and together, and blinked innocently. “What? These?”

He grimaced. “You know it’s gross when you do that, little sister.”

“You’re not the only one with sexuality,” I reminded him.

Absinthe green eyes zeroed in on me. “Really? And when was the last time you indulged in said sexuality?”

My heart clenched. It wasn’t that I hadn’t found any males attractive.

But I just couldn’t.

Not since I’d seen that bastard mate of mine, Leander.

I didn’t want him—I would run my entire life to stay away from him—but whenever I got physically close to another male, the memory of Leander’s piercing amethyst and cerulean eyes filled my mind. I couldn’t shake the image of him out of my head, making it impossible for me to take the next step with anyone.

I hedged defensively, “I’m working on it.”

His expression softened. “You deserve to be happy, Cinn.”

I swallowed past the lump in my throat, overwhelmed by the love and concern in his voice. “One day...” I whispered, my words dropping off.

He already knew what I was going to say. It was another conversation we’d had more than once. Letting it go, he whined, “Will you at least go change your top? Do it for me, so that I don’t feel the need to tear out the horny male’s throat the entire time I’m trying to create a pretty little picture on his biker friend’s shoulder.”

I couldn’t help smiling at his forlorn expression. He really did have a hard time when males looked at me like they wanted to gobble me up. It kicked his protective nature into high gear, making it hard for him to concentrate on anything else. And careful attention was required today. Both tattoos we were working on today were complex with a lot of intricate shading. Complete focus was required for the quality of work we’d become known for.

It was the reason we were able to afford our tattoo shop and the loft we lived in above it. After doing a sleeve and chest work for the President of the Grimm Motorcycle Club a year ago, word had spread quickly, and bikers from several states made appointments for custom artwork.

I’d always loved to draw. My first job after we’d fled was with a local tattoo parlor. With an ID in hand that said I was eighteen, I certainly hadn’t looked it, not with the fresh face and innocence of my true fifteen-year-old self at the time. The owner had been suspicious, but after some trial sketches, he liked my work enough to hire me anyway. I smiled at the irony—I wasn’t legally old enough to get a tattoo, but there I was, madly writing in permanent ink on the flesh of every type of client under the sun.

Of course, it hadn’t been long before I wanted beautiful artwork on my body. Wherever I could reach, I did the work myself, but for those places, I couldn’t access, I didn’t trust anyone other than Lucky. During those early years, Lucky’s work preference was mechanical and motorcycle body shop, but he was a damn good artist as well, and frequently filled in whenever another staff member called out or didn’t show.

We hadn’t stayed in that location very long. Actually, for the first two years, we moved every two to four months, never putting down roots, never establishing a pattern of behavior. We’d simply throw a dart at a map and evaluate the location, making sure we were never close to any pack. It was grueling. Just when we’d gotten settled, the time would fly by, and we’d have to pack up and start all over again. Until a year ago. The dart landed on the quaint small-town of Juniper, Nevada, about an hour north of Las Vegas near the mountains. We fell in love with everything the little town had to offer, and for the first time, we both felt we could stay in one place a little longer.

“Fine,” I relented, staring at Lucky’s puppy dog pleading expression, and went back to my room to change my top. I stripped off the singlet and found a crimson T-shirt. It was almost the exact same shade as my red hair. I’d been coloring my naturally strawberry-blonde hair, various shades of dark red, for the last three years. Not only did it help with disguising my identity, but with heavier kohl makeup, the combination helped me look older—at least old enough for my job. I examined my reflection in the mirror. The T-shirt was still tight, hugging my figure, but didn’t show as much cleavage. And it looked good with the black cargo pants that hung low on my hips.

I left my bedroom and found Lucky waiting for me in the living room. He held a bottle of beer in his hand and stood, staring at a painting of a chocolate brown wolf with tawny highlights, on the brick wall. The Wolf had a beautiful blue leafy swirl from the top of its eye curled around its ear to the base of its snout—the same cerulean blue, so much like another Wolf’s eyes that I couldn’t seem to get out of my head.

“This one’s new,” he murmured, taking a sip of his drink, still admiring the painting. There was appreciation in his eyes, but I saw a familiar sadness that mirrored my own—a longing to be a part of a Pack. Wolves were social creatures, and we’d been on our own for too long. Just our little family of two. It was shocking to think I hadn’t seen another Wolf in over three years.

“Yes, I just finished it last night. " I stepped to his side. I loved to paint and create mixed-media artwork. In addition to other subjects, I kept several pieces of wolf art on the walls. I suspected it was my way of subconsciously trying to surround Lucky and myself with a Pack—even if they were just in paint.

“Are you going to take it to the gallery?” he asked, glancing in my direction.

I chewed my bottom lip. Six months ago, we’d had a client come in for a tattoo. She owned an art gallery in Las Vegas. She’d taken one look at the art on the walls and immediately wanted several of the pieces for her gallery. I’d agreed , not really expecting much, however shockingly they’d sold very quickly, and she’d come back for more. But I wasn’t sure I was ready to give up this piece and murmured, “I don’t know. Maybe.”

“Where are your initials?” he asked, leaning forward slightly, refocusing on the painting.

I signed my paintings with my alias, Abigale Rourke; however, hidden somewhere in all of my artwork where my real initials, HD for Hycinth Diamonte. I pointed to two swirls by the wolf’s ear. Luca nodded.

My glance drifted away from the painting and landed on another piece of artwork. I hadn’t created this one. Instead, we’d found it at a local flea market, and it was one of my favorite pieces in the loft. A massive, metal steampunk-looking clock with interlocking gears. The time on the clock face jolted me out of our softly-spoken moment.

“Oh crap, we’ve got to go! They’ll be here in less than ten minutes.” I pulled on Lucky’s arm.

He followed me toward the front door, not bothering to leave his beer. He just carried it with him as we headed down two flights of metal stairs and out onto the street below. Even though our loft was located right above the tattoo parlor, there was no adjoining door. After locking the door to our home, we unlocked the shop. The familiar smell of antiseptic and bleach wafted into my nostrils. I wrinkled my sensitive nose. The scents were quite strong but necessary to keep the work area and instruments sterile.

After a flurry of activity, our workstations were ready.

Right on time.

The front door opened and two loud and boisterous bikers from the Grimm MC walked inside. Leroy immediately walked to Luca and clasped his hand, greeting him heartily, “Whiskey.”

Leroy’s glance fell on the nearby beer. His eyebrow went up with a smirk. “You do know it’s only nine in the morning.”

Lucky grinned, “I need to be liquored up before I can even think about touching your foul skin.”

The biker shook his head as he settled into the chair and grunted, “Least you could do is share.”

“Yeah. All right.” Luca walked over to a small refrigerator we kept in the corner. He opened the door and pulled out a bottle. Looking over his shoulder at Tommy, he asked, “Tommy?”

“Nah, man, I’m good,” Tommy answered, not bothering to take his eyes off of me. “I’ve got everything I need right here.”

“Dude, that’s my sister,” Lucky shut the refrigerator door a smidgen harder than necessary, already getting riled up as he returned to his station and handed the bottle to Leroy.

Tommy’s eyes danced as he removed off his cut and pulled his T-shirt over his head, leaving his chest bare. He took a Glock handgun from the back of his pants and set it on the side table with his discarded clothes, before settling into the chair and lying back. I chastised him, “Tommy, stop provoking him.”

“I can’t help it, baby girl. You’re just too delicious to be ignored.”

Lucky let out a sound of irritation.

Tommy ignored him and continued, “So, the Club is having a little party on Saturday night. Any chance I could convince you to join us? I promise to show you a really good time,” he said seductively, his voice low and deep, and suggestively grabbed his crotch for emphasis—as if I wasn’t already clear on his meaning.

Luca snapped, “I swear, you better not have a boner over there...or I’ma throw you out on your ass.”

Tommy laughed, “Don’t worry, I’ll keep it in my pants...for now.” Tommy was a badass on his own merit, the Grimm MC’s Sgt. at Arms, respected and feared. But all humans could sense Luca’s animalistic danger. They didn’t know what made him different, but they felt the predator inside, and no one provoked him. It was probably another reason we’d garnered so much respect from the surrounding motorcycle clubs.

Without warning, an unmistakable smell hit my nose—Wolf!

One I didn’t recognize!

Terror crashed through me. My spine went rigid. Lucky had also caught the scent and was snarling profusely, his body trembling, poised for attack as we both faced the door. Instantly, Tommy snatched the weapon he’d set aside and was on his feet. Leroy joined him, eyes wide, alarmed by our sudden change in demeanor.

The door opened and not just one, but five of the largest wolves I’d ever seen came through. For a second, I hoped that maybe they were just there to get a tattoo. My hope was destroyed as soon as I made eye contact with the male who stood in front of the others. He grinned at me in recognition and satisfaction—for having caught his prey. He had to be from Leander’s pack. The male’s pupils were fully dilated, the black eyes of a ruthless Wolf staring back at me. He purred, “Hycinth...You’ve been a bad, bad girl.”

Tommy’s head swiveled to me, searching my expression. He hadn’t missed that the man called me by a different name than what he knew me to be, Abigale. Tommy refocused his attention on the menacing man staring at me, and snapped, “Who the fuck are you?”

“Oh, I’m the one who’s going to punish our naughty little girl, here.” He grinned lasciviously,

Dread rippled up and down my spine.

“Like fuck you are,” Luca snarled.

“Take her!” the lead Wolf ordered.

But before any of them could move, I spun and sprinted to the back of the shop and dove through the plate glass window, landing in a somersault on the grass outside.

Tommy exclaimed, “What the fuck?!”

I ran, heading toward the safety of the trees. Behind me, a fight exploded. I glanced over my shoulder to see the big, burly Wolf track me out the window. As he ran toward me, he yelled back to the others, “Get the Wolf! Put the other two down.”

Gunshots rang out.

No, no, no!!!

Adrenaline pushed through my veins, echoing the fast thumping of my heartbeat in my ears. I kept my head low and flat-out sprinted, flying over the terrain. It only took moments for me to breach the edge of the trees. I zigzagged but heard him gaining on me. My lungs screamed from the exertion. Still, I pushed faster.

Suddenly, something impacted me from behind, hard, knocking me off my feet.

“Oh!” I tumbled to the ground, feeling large hands grasp at my legs. I kicked, my heavy combat boot landing in the center of his face. A loud crack. Blood spurted from his nose.

“Fucking bitch!”

I scrambled to my feet and spun to face him. He was on his feet as well, fire in his eyes. Trying to keep the advantage, I struck, landing a punch to his gut and another kick, this one to his kneecap.

He grunted angrily and surged forward.

Unfortunately for me, he had the weight advantage. He wrapped both arms around me in a bear hug and used his body as leverage to force me to the ground. I landed hard on my back, the air rushing from my lungs. Black spots blurred my vision until I could reorient myself. I bucked and writhed, twisting and turning to throw him off.

He wrapped his arms and legs around me tighter. “Hold still, bitch!”

My claws came out. I scratched him down his face, drawing long trails of blood. He roared and repositioned his body to grab both of my arms and forced them above over my head. His canines came out, menacing and long. “Stop fighting me, or I’ll tear out your throat!”

I stopped fighting.

My chest heaved. I could barely breathe with his heavy body on mine.

He gathered both of my wrists in one of his big hands and used the other to wipe the blood from his face. He hissed, “Aren’t you just the wildcat?”

“You have no idea,” I snapped back.

Suddenly, his expression changed, shocking me.

It went from anger to desire.

I stiffened beneath him, a whole new fear flowing through me. Abruptly, his hand slid up my shirt and pushed under her bra. He rolled and pinched my nipple between his calloused fingers. A grunt of pleasure came from his chest.

“Stop!” I cried out.

He didn’t respond, except to push his hips into me, the object of his desire hard in his pants.

“Please...don’t," I begged.

“You don’t like that?” he purred and then moved his hand down. Shockingly fast, he unbuttoned my pants and released the zipper, his fingers finding their target. “What about this?”

Shit, he was really going to violate me! I had to do something to stop him and panted, “He’ll kill you...your Alpha...for touching me!”

An ugly cruel laugh came from his throat. “My Alpha plans on making you his little whore...and he has no problem sharing his women. You’re no different.”

My heart thundered in my chest. Abruptly, two more wolves joined us. One of them hissed, “Dagger, what the fuck are you doing?!”

“What does it look like I’m doing? Just sampling the goods,” the vile Wolf snapped, obviously irritated at being interrupted.

The goods?!

Is that what Leander thought I was? An object? A toy for his pleasure?

Obviously—if he planned to make me his whore and share me with his men. Panic thumped a drum beat in my chest. I’d anticipated the Alpha might take me against my will. But never in my worst nightmares had I anticipated one of his wolves would. Maybe this one was just delusional or trying to scare me.

The other wolf insisted harshly, “He’ll kill you for touching her before he’s had everything he wants first. You need to stop!”

First?

So it was true!

The menacing Wolf on top of me wasn’t just delusional. The other men planned on having their turns as well.

Horror washed over me. I couldn’t survive that.

What kind of Alpha was he?!

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