Authors: Anne Marsh
Tyra didn’t ask to become a werewolf and all she wants is to get on with her life. But when a prophecy foretells that the werewolves will bring about Ragnarok, the Norse end of the world, the entire paranormal world is gunning for her new Pack.
A mercenary and soldier of fortune, Calder clawed his way to the top of the Viking world and he’ll defend his brothers-in-arms to the last breath. But nothing could have prepared him for the newly turned werewolf who demands his help.
Calder doesn’t trade sex for favors, but there’s no denying the intense sexual chemistry between them and soon the lines between duty and pleasure blur. But if Tyra wants to keep her Viking, first she’ll have to learn the sweet pleasures of submission…
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Copyright© 2014 Anne Marsh
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system, with the written permission of the author, except where permitted by law.
Cover design by The Killion Group, Inc.
Killing was the easy part.
It was the fucking
he didn’t like.
Crouched on the floor of his cell, Calder tested the bars as he’d done every day for the last month. The steel-reinforced iron didn’t give and the drugs pumping through his veins left him too weakened to shift into his bear form. He’d stay here until his captors dragged him out for the night’s fight, only to shoot him full of another damned drug and dump him in the pit to face off against a paranormal opponent who hadn’t signed up for hand-to-hand with a Viking berserker. Like the last night and a seemingly endless string of nights before that, he would take down the other fighter, sometimes even without going berserk and shifting into his bear form. Because fighting was the one thing he did well.
Eventually, the pit keepers would screw up. Someone would get the drug dosage wrong or drop a weapon. Eventually, he’d get out of here, find his fellow Vikings, and—yeah—put the pits out of business. He might be a mercenary for hire, but he hadn’t signed up for a starring role in an illegal fighting ring. He and the other Vikings been drugged and taken coming off a battlefield, leaving him with no memories of how his ass had gotten to Las Vegas, Nevada where the pit fights were carried on in subterranean arenas deep below the Strip.
The owners of the fight pits were dangerous predators, men who set one paranormal against another for the sick amusement of the watching crowds. A few fighters were volunteers. Most, however, were there against their will, compelled to fight by a combination of drugs, instinct, and a desire to live one more night. Calder had been separated from the rest of the Vikings two weeks ago. The isolation might have been the first step in a plan to break him—or merely a prep step toward psyching him up to fight his brothers. Didn’t matter, because neither was happening.
When he heard the heavy boot steps moving down the hall toward his cell, he dropped into a fighting stance. The cell next door was empty—he’d killed the occupant last night in a pit match. Either the boot steps heralded a new neighbor, or his guards had plans for him.
Keys rattled as the cage next to him grated open. The guard wasted no time, tossing a small bundle inside before slamming the door shut and re-locking it. He banged on Calder’s door next and Calder growled. He was really tired of this shit.
“Brought you some eye candy, Viking,” the guard called out.
There was silence from the other cage, followed by a small, feminine groan. That was new. Paranormal females could be every bit as vicious as their male counterparts—the cells held at least one Valkyrie—but so far Calder had fought only males. The female rolled over, giving him his first good look at her. She was tiny, only five foot four inches. She was also curvy and
Long dark hair fell over her face, concealing her expression. She wore a bloodstained USC T-shirt, a pair of cotton shorts that hugged the curve of her ass, and sparkly flip-flops. Bruises and scratches covered her legs as she curled into a defensive ball, moaning. She looked sweet, innocent, and
The fragile vulnerability had to be a front. He certainly knew better than to trust her. Anyone the pit keepers intended to fight had to be capable of winning, even if her clothes screamed Club Med escapee instead of
dangerous killer here.
Since it had been a long time since he saw a female so pretty, however, he spent the next two hours staring at his new roomie while he pushed his body through a brutal series of pull-ups and push-ups. She was definitely better looking than the giant-werewolf hybrid that had occupied the space last. That opponent had lasted a full twenty minutes in the ring against Calder.
She came to screaming. Typical. It took another hour for her to stop the noise and, even then, he suspected she shut up only because she’d come close to losing her voice. The whole time she hollered, she drove her hands against the iron bars, shaking and clawing at the restraints. Since he hadn’t been able to batter his way free in his bear form, there was no way she did it with her pretty pink nails.
Eventually, he got bored. “You’re not getting out.”
Her head whipped around and—nice touch—she almost hyperventilated when she spotted him. She needed to be more aware of who was in her space. She’d been so focused on the door that she’d neglected to check out her surroundings.
She babbled something he didn’t catch and rushed toward the bars separating her cell from his.
He could have stretched a hand through the bars and snapped her neck.
have done it and saved himself the time because, eventually, the pit keepers would send her into the ring against him and she’d lose. Killing her quickly would be an act of mercy. It had been a long time, however, since he’d had company and he was actually tired of the killing. Chocolate cake might be the nectar of the gods, but serve it up for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and it got old.
She didn’t stop the flow of questions, but they slowed down some into a stead flow: “Where are we? Who kidnapped us? Who’s getting us out?”
He had a question of his own. “What are you?”
To his surprise, she poked him through the bars. Most paranormals took one look at him and backed the hell up. They saw a seven-foot-tall Viking with shaggy hair and ripped muscles, and didn’t get within touching distance until they were dying. And that was without his usual arsenal of weapons. Before he’d come to the pits, he’d gone nowhere without his battle-axes.
His new neighbor didn’t seem to notice he was a lethal killer. She jabbed her finger into him again to punctuate her litany of questions. He looked down and glared at the offending digit, but she didn’t remove it.
“Is this an international slavery ring?” She countered her question with another one and then she was off and running again. She talked and talked and talked. Since her constant stream of words gave him plenty of time to think, he decided he didn’t really mind. Not being a talker himself, the constant silence sometimes got old. His new neighbor also had a pretty voice to go with her face, so he admired the scenery until, eventually, she stopped. Apparently, she topped out at 112 conspiracy theories. He’d counted.
“What are you?” he repeated.
“Pissed,” she snapped and he grinned. She did have a backbone. Good for her.
“Vampire? Elf? Land spirit? Valkyrie? Werewolf?” She didn’t look like any of those. Perhaps she was a minor goddess. A very,
minor goddess. Of fluffy slippers and sparkly flip-flops. She was certainly no tough girl.
Slumping against the wall beside the bars separating them, she rested her head against the wall. “You’re crazy. Which is totally understandable.”
Her opinions on his sanity—or lack thereof—were irrelevant. He didn’t move away, either.
. Instead, he took up a similar position, leaning against the wall a mere foot away from her, drinking in her scent. She smelled like a fruit bowl. Peaches and raspberries and something creamy. Her scent was so much better than the death and blood stench of their prison that he wanted to sit there and just breathe, which qualified him for the crazy label she’d tossed in his direction.
When she shifted at sunset an hour later, he realized that he’d underestimated her after all. Her transformation was beautiful. Bones cracked, her body jerking as it shed her humanity like so much unwanted clothing. Fur rushed over her skin in a long, smooth roll of white and gray. A snow wolf. Imagine that. Fuck him, but Fenrir’s get was the last thing he’d have pegged her for.
His neighbor threw back her head and howled. In her lupine form, she was undeniably powerful. She snapped her jaws at him, growling as she battered her body against the iron bars.
Since she was one of Fenrir’s children, she was also squarely in the kill-on-sight camp. Like most of the paranormal world, the Vikings didn’t tolerate werewolves. A seer had foretold Odin’s death at the hand of a werewolf, a death that would kick off the start of Ragnarök, the Norse Armageddon. As a result, Odin’s policy was simple.
Kill the wolves.
Every. Single. One.
Calder and his fellow berserkers weren’t exactly high on Odin’s current list of favorites—understandable, as they’d been created by Loki to wreak havoc—so none of them could afford to piss off the god. It was too bad for his little wolf. She’d go down and go down hard, even though she hadn’t asked for the bite that had rocked her world.
Too bad, so sad.
He knew all about bad breaks himself.
Tyra came to. That was the only word for it. She didn’t wake up, because she hadn’t been happily asleep in her bed. In fact, she wasn’t sure where she was or how she’d gotten here. Or even
she was. That was the scariest part. Her memories were all jumbled up, but she couldn’t latch onto anything other than the heart-pounding rush of adrenaline and the vicious throb in her left breast.
At least, she was pretty sure she was awake and not dreaming.
Please God, let me be dreaming
. But she could see her hands, and that wasn’t supposed to be possible in a dream, was it? She’d been walking…somewhere. And then something…someone…had sprung out at her. She remembered the pain and the screaming, but it was like her brain had been wiped clean before she woke up here...yesterday? Today? She remembered the cell and yelling for help, but then her memories did a fade to black and she’d lost more time. Worse, whoever she’d been before, whatever had brought her here, she
A whisper of sound brought her head up and about stopped her heart. Yep. Despite everything else she’d forgotten, she remembered the big, blood-streaked man crouched on the other side of the bars. In addition to being the biggest man she’d ever laid eyes on (and somehow she remembered that), Mr. Tall, Dark, and Feral was seriously cut, his body rippling with muscles. He also clearly didn’t believe in clothes, because the man was mostly naked except for some kind of leather and fur loincloth that screamed
She was almost certain she didn’t know him. When she wracked her brain, trying to force the memories, fragmented, postcard-like images danced in her head. A room with fruit cut crookedly out of construction paper. Children’s faces. A small house with a bright red door and dead geraniums because she killed plants. The shadowy interior of a limo, women’s faces smiling as they lifted plastic Champagne flutes in a noisy toast to a white tulle-wearing woman. Flashes of bright lights, hotel high-rises, and…a pyramid? Connecting the dots was a task of Herculean impossibility—but she knew with bone-deep certainty that those
were all that was left of her memory.