Authors: Amanda Bonilla
Tags: #Paranormal Erotica, #Cherrie Lynn, #The Sweetest Temptation, #C.J. Roberts, #Erotica Series, #Fiction, #Erotic Shorts, #Linda Howard, #Pepper Pace, #Erotic Romance, #Erotic Short Stories, #H.M. Ward, #The Sweetest Mercy, #J. Kenner, #Beautiful Bastard, #Sara Fawkes, #Colleen Hoover, #Olivia Cunning, #Jeaniene Frost, #Free, #Crave the Darkness, #M. Leighton, #Blood Before Sunrise, #Adult Fiction, #Erotica, #Short Stories, #50 Shades of Gray, #R.K. Lilley, #Katie Ashley, #alpha male, #Kathryn Harvey, #Ilona Andrews, #Sylvia Day, #Urban Fantasy Romance, #Shaedes of Gray, #Christina Lauren, #Paranormal Erotica Series, #Bestseller, #The Dark Duet, #Jennifer Foor, #Hopeless, #Shapeshifter Erotica, #Urban Fantasy, #E.L. James, #Bared to You, #Shapeshifter, #Lost to the Gray, #Paranormal romance, #Paranormal, #Cherise Sinclair, #Domination and Submission, #Erotic Urban Fantasy, #Amanda Bonilla
The Sweetest Mercy
A Sexy Shifter Short
Copyright © 2013 by Amanda Bonilla
“THE ONLY GOOD lion is a dead lion.”
Carter Hayes listened from the cover of brush, waiting for the ranchers to pass him by. Mountain lions posed a threat to livestock, but the animal responsible for the massacre of three ewes had known exactly what he was doing when he thoughtlessly killed the livestock. This wasn’t a hunt for food, it was a message. And Carter got the message loud and clear.
He’d been tracking Reece Simonson for the past twenty-four hours, ordered by his alpha, Logan Paige, to find the son of a bitch and bring him to justice. It would have been easy to chase him down had Carter only been after Reece. But the situation was a little stickier than that.
“I think I see tracks up this way!” One of the ranchers called to his companion. “Let’s head down this draw and see if we can find the rest of the flock.”
Carter let out the breath he’d been holding. He was too close to risk these idiots stumbling into Reece’s self-proclaimed territory and he didn’t need the extra stress of trying to save their fool asses in addition to Drew Paige’s soon to be sister-in-law.
Rescuing damsels in distress was
in Carter’s job description. However, capturing—and killing if need be—traitorous bastards like Reece was right up Carter’s alley. And if he was an expert tracker, he was an even better killer.
This far into the backcountry, the trails were mainly footpaths trampled by herds of elk and deer. Carter knew the lay of the land well; he hunted on this land often. Surely if Reece had known he frequented this particular area, he wouldn’t have settled in Carter’s territory. From the draw to his left, the voices of the ranchers carried to Carter’s ears on the late afternoon breeze. He’d seen the small flock of frightened sheep the night before and if the ranchers kept going another half mile or so, they should stumble across them. Sheep were insufferably easy to scare, and Reece had obviously harried them before slaughtering the three ewes. He’d ripped their throats open and left them to bleed out. A warning to whoever was tracking him that he wouldn’t hesitate to do the same to his enemies.
Carter snorted. Like he’d ever be afraid of a pussy like Reece.
He never could understand why Logan had made Reece his second. Of course, none of the pride’s more worthy males had bothered to challenge Reece for the position, either. Mountain lions didn’t subscribe to pack hierarchy like wolves did, though they did acknowledge when a rival cat was stronger. Besides being dangerously territorial, mountain lions gave one another a fairly wide berth. The same went for shifters. It might have been better to simply consider the northwest Montana lion shifters as a territory rather than a “pride.” Logan kept a tight knit group at his compound on the outskirts of Kalispell: his mate, Caitlin, his brother, Drew, and three or four of the higher ranking lions. But other than that, the remaining members of Logan’s pride were scattered in a hundred-mile radius.
The breeze shifted to Carter’s advantage, bringing a draft of air from the north. He brought his nose to the wind, his senses heightened in his mountain lion form. It was faint, but Reece’s scent hit his nostrils, indicating that Carter’s prey wasn’t far off. Though traveling in his animal form would have been more efficient, Carter planned to go the rest of the way on foot. A big mountain cat wasn’t exactly built to carry a heavy hiking pack or shoulder a rifle. In some ways, his human form was more suited for the task at hand.
The shift was easy. Painless. In this he had the advantage over a creature like a werewolf whose transformation from human to wolf and back was rumored to be excruciatingly painful. For Carter the transformation was as easy as taking a step, walking from the skin of one being and into another. He knew the basics: their unique magic made their shifts easy and painless, but beyond that, Carter didn’t much care. In his opinion, magic was unpredictable. It made his hackles rise and his inner beast agitated. The very magic that made him what he was also made him nervous as fuck. He’d always been a walking contradiction.
Carter walked the fifteen yards to where his trail pack was stowed along with his rifle and clothes. He dressed quickly, laced up his boots and slung his pack across his back, opting to carry the rifle like a suitcase. Reece was many things, but stupid he wasn’t. Carter wanted to be sure the rifle would be ready to be put to use if by some miracle Reece realized he was being tracked and took the offensive.
By the strength of Reece’s scent, Carter assumed he’d set up camp five or so miles up the trail. And if memory served, there was a large cave near the summit. An hour hike would get him there just after sundown. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. Like he ever left anything to chance. An ambush at dark would provide the right amount of cover. If the wind continued to blow from the north, Carter could circle around and come at Reece from the south-east. He’d never see it coming.
Damn. Carter loved it when a plan went off without a hitch.
KIERA WARE HUDDLED against the cold granite wall of the cave, her hands bound behind her with a thick length of rope. Her sanity slipped by the hour, the need within her burning at a fevered pitch that would soon consume her. What kind of woman begged her kidnapper for sex? It was beyond twisted. But she had. Gods, she’d groveled at his feet, tears streaming down her face as she pleaded with him to give her release. And the bastard had sneered at her. Called her horrible names, kicked at and spat on her. “You think I’d debase myself with a filthy whore like you?” he asked incredulously. “You disgust me.”
A sob worked its way up Kiera’s throat and her eyes burned with unshed tears. She’d wept herself dry. Her body had nothing more to give.
When she agreed to her sister, Erica’s suggestions that they leave their mother’s coven in Coeur d’Alene, she had no idea what sort of trouble they’d find. Kiera could never quite understand Erica’s motives for leaving, but the thought of her sister being out in the world, alone when the need came on the heels of the full moon, well, what kind of sister would she have been to let her sister go alone? Besides, they’d both wanted an adventure, hadn’t they?
And man, had Kiera gotten one.
Her wood nymph blood gave her certain… advantages over human men. For starters, with nothing more than the sound of her voice, she could enthrall them to do whatever she wanted. She’d been restless, and looking for a little fun, and so she’d gone out to a dive bar off Highway 2 and the guy sitting alone in the corner had seemed like the perfect prospect. No ring. No date. He looked as miserable as she felt. Perhaps licking his wounds after a nasty breakup, he nursed his beer and scowled at anyone who looked like they were having a good time.
“Is this seat taken?” she purred, infusing her voice with just the slightest bit of power.
He raised a brow, studied her. Then held out his hand in invitation.
Sometimes it was too damn easy.
Even with that unhappy scowl on his face, he was pretty good looking. Not a bad catch for the night if she did say so herself. Erica always had a problem with the hunt, but not Kiera. Wood nymphs were sexual creatures by their very nature, but during the full moon phase they were insatiable. Sex was necessary. If she didn’t find release, her sanity would slowly slip by degrees until the madness consumed her. That aspect of their nature never bothered Kiera. It was easy enough to deal with. Once a month, she got laid. A lot. Didn’t seem like a huge burden to bear. It was a hell of a lot better than walking over shards of broken glass or being forced to sit and watch reruns of Wheel of Fortune. Now
would have been torture.
“I’m Kiera,” she said, holding out her hand.
“You wanna get out of here, Kiera?” the man asked without so much as a handshake.
She smiled. Like shooting fish in a barrel. “Do you have someplace in mind?”
“I’ve got a motel room down the road and a bottle of Jack. We could take this party over there.”
Perfect. She hated playing games, going through the motions and rituals of the hook-up. This guy wasn’t about getting to know her or easing into anything. Maybe he needed a woman to erase the pain of a broken heart. And she could be a soothing balm for him. No emotional connections. No awkward conversation in the morning. No, “I’ll call you.” All Kiera needed was an hour or so of sex to get her through the night.
“I think a change of venue sounds like a great idea,” she replied as she scooted out from the bench seat. “Let’s go.”
Too bad her judgment had been clouded by a fog of desire and mind-numbing lust. She might have realized that there was something off about this mystery guy who’d been so willing to take a perfect stranger to his motel room. Maybe if she hadn’t been so busy undressing, she would have realized that she hadn’t persuaded him to do anything. In fact, her voice had no effect on him. She might have noticed the glint of metal as the knife slashed down on her arm. If she’d paid an ounce of attention, fear wouldn’t have frozen her in place as his fist swung around and caught her in the face.
Her sister, Erica, had always considered their parentage more of a curse than a blessing. She’d taken lovers with caution, chatting with her potential bed mates, extracting information out of them with her siren voice, making sure they were safe. She’d never been swept away by passion. Kiera, on the other hand had, without guilt, indulged and partied her life away. Kiera couldn’t help but think she should have taken a cue from her younger sibling. Because Erica wasn’t sitting in a dark, freezing cold cave in the middle of nowhere waiting for her kidnapper to return and decide if he was ready to kill her or not.
There was something to be said for caution.
CARTER LIFTED HIS NOSE nose to the air, inhaling the female’s scent and holding it in his lungs. His beast stirred in his psyche, growling with appreciation. He’d been told that the female he’d been sent to fetch was a wood nymph, but since he’d never met one he didn’t recognize her scent signature. Logan warned him that she’d be out of sorts due to a full-moon heat but it hadn’t worried him in the least. No female had managed to attract his attention for decades. Besides, this was a job, not a blind date. What was more disconcerting than Reece’s absence, though, was the way the female’s scent called to that primal side of him, urging him forward toward the mouth of the cave even though years of training—and a fair amount of common sense—advised caution.
He circled the area twice, being sure to keep downwind. Reece wasn’t an idiot, he had to have known Logan and Drew would send someone after him. And though Carter had fully expected an ambush, the site was absent of any other scent save hers.
The situation had become a hell of a lot more problematic than he liked. His original plan had been to take out any henchmen with the sniper rifle and then immobilize Reece. Once the fugitive was in his custody, he’d retrieve the female and they’d all travel back to Logan’s compound together. So much for his carefully orchestrated plan. As of now, the ambush he’d expected was nonexistent. The male he’d been tasked with bringing back to his alpha was nowhere to be found. That left him with the female… whose scent was driving him absolutely fucking crazy.