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Playing Wolf [MultiFormat]
eBook by Mina Carter

eBook Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
eBook Description: Twin wolves Ryder and Jayce share everything. Their job, their cars, their women. There's many a woman happy to spend a night or weekend of passion with a couple of handsome bad-boy bounty hunters. But there's one woman they won't touch ... the woman who sets them on fire like no other. When Caitlin crashes through the doors of Honey's bar she sets off a chain reaction that has the twins facing their mother's death, their long lost father and their deepest desires. Life will never be the same again, if they survive.

eBook Publisher: Atlantic Bridge/Liquid Silver Books, Published: 2010
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2010


39 Reader Ratings:
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Prologue

The Phoenix rose from the flames, the scent of charred feathers stinging Ancelin's nose. Darkness held him tightly, the only light coming from the eerie wavering form of the Phoenix and the fire. He tried to move his limbs. Nothing. Awareness flooded his brain as the light from the Phoenix grew brighter.

"I'm dreaming," he said.

"Of course," the Phoenix replied, although its beak never moved.

"This is a prophecy." Ancelin's heart thundered.

In all the years he had been mated to Nix, her phoenix-driven prophecies had never touched him. Every night he slept beside her and knew she dreamed of the destinies of others. Yet, not once had she dreamed of him. Tonight, the world as he knew it shifted on its axis as her phoenix--her soul--came to him as he slept.

"You have no need of explanations, Ancelin," the Phoenix told him. "You know what I tell you shall come to pass."

Ancelin might be a demi-god, but the power of the Phoenix was beyond his control. "Just tell me and get it over with," he gritted out arrogantly, unwilling to admit fear crept into his heart.

The Phoenix's flames burned hotter, the image glowing brighter. "Your transgressions shall be the vehicle of your end, Ancelin. The pain you have caused others will turn on you. The trinity will break you, and you shall be no more. Your fate is at hand."

Ancelin swallowed hard. If he had been able to feel his limbs, he knew they would be trembling. A phoenix prophecy could never be reversed. It always came to be.

The Phoenix's voice grew cold and disdainful. "Three and three have you used for your own ends. Three times have you broken your vows. Your life force shall be the payment for your transgressions, and three hands will bring about your death. With your passing, new lives will be wrought for those whose lives you've torn. With your blood, the circle shall be mended. It has already been decreed."

With a start, Ancelin awoke, gasping for air. Beside him, the flame-haired form of his mate lay still as marble, barely breathing. Anger flooded him, and he wondered if he could break the prophecy by killing her as she slept.

Her eyelids flickered. "You have not the ability to snuff the Phoenix's flames, Ancelin," she murmured, her turquoise eyes boring into his as she sat up in their bed.

Rising to his feet, Ancelin yanked the silk sheet and wrapped it around his hips. He glared at his mate left sitting on the wide mattress, her naked skin glowing in the moonlight. "That's what you think. And even if I couldn't kill you, that does not mean I cannot change the prophecy by snuffing out the lives of those who seek to end mine," he snarled.

"I did not dream that on purpose, my lord." His mate's words were cool, but respectful.

He stormed towards the bathroom, fury riding his heels. "You did, Nix. You knew I was unfaithful, and this is your punishment."

She shook her head, the red-gold curls tumbling around her shoulders. "Ancelin, you know I have no control over the dreams, over the Phoenix..."

"Fuck you. I always knew you were a cold-hearted bitch. Why do you think I sought comfort from others," Ancelin sneered. He went into the bathroom and slammed the door.

Left alone, Nix rose from the bed. The moonlight gilded her perfect form as she crossed the room to an escritoire. From a small drawer, she withdrew a hand mirror with a gilded frame shaped like a phoenix.

She brushed her fingers over the glass and a vision appeared in the oval. A young man with dark hair and argent eyes stared at the ocean, watching the movement of the waves. Nix touched the mirror where his arm was, and he flinched. There on his skin appeared a phoenix mark. He blinked in shock and stared at the tattoo-like artwork that swirled over his bicep.

Nix swept her palm over the mirror, and the vision changed. This time, two men, obviously twins, one dark and one light, materialized on the glass. They stood in the forest gazing at the moon. Nix's fingertip touched the mirror, over the right side of one's chest, then over the left side of the other. Both flinched as black tribal lines, the mark of the phoenix, wrote themselves onto their skin.

Again, Nix's palm passed over the mirror. She closed her eyes for a moment, a spasm of pain crossing her beautiful features. Opening her eyes, she gazed at the image of a man with hair as fair as the moonlight, his eyes glittering like jet. He stood beside a fire, his face turned towards her. Her fingertip pressed the glass gently, as if she actually touched the side of his throat. Unlike his brothers, shock did not show on his face. Instead, his eyes seemed to bore into hers.

She passed her hand over the mirror, and it darkened. Putting it away, she returned to the bed she had shared with Ancelin for the last century. A loveless bed. A loveless mating. Soon the prophecy would come true and she would be free. Ancelin thought he could break it. Nix knew it was possible under certain circumstances, but she was determined it would not happen this time. The Phoenix would win. It almost always did. And this time, if she was to survive, it must.

* * * *

Chapter One

"Fuck me, I need to get laid." Jayce flicked a glance up from the cards in his hand and suppressed the exasperated sigh that wanted to escape his lips. Across the table, his partner in crime, Ryder, glared at his bottle of Bud, grumbling.

Jayce shrugged. "You say that every night."

"So? Doesn't make it any less true. Do you know how long it's been since we saw any action? Th--"

"Three weeks, four days and sixteen hours," Jayce replied promptly, cutting Ryder off without looking up. He didn't need to look up, he'd heard this every night for three weeks and three days. If there was anything on this planet Ryder liked more than tracking prey it was sex.

"And it's your own fault. If you hadn't pissed Ramona off, she'd still be here and perhaps I'd get some peace from your belly aching and your over-active bloody sex drive." A groan from the other side of the table told Jayce his remark had hit home.

"Oh God, you had to remind me of Ramona didn't you? That woman's got tits to die for and a cunt so tight--"

"Yeah, yeah. What am I? A fucking monk?" Jayce snapped back, feeling the sexual frustration as keenly as Ryder. That was the problem with bonded wolves, both partners felt what the other did. Which could be fantastic--if they were lovers.

Jayce and Ryder weren't. They couldn't be, ever, even if they were that way inclined--and both liked women far too much for that--because they were brothers. Not only brothers, but twins. Twin wolves, a genetic abnormality unheard of before their birth.

"Ugh, sorry bro. Didn't think." Ryder picked morosely at the label on his bottle and pouted. Jayce shook his head and carried on laying cards out in a game of patience.

Patience. That was a laugh. Jayce had zero patience and he knew it. He was playing to keep his hands occupied as they whiled away the hours waiting for something to happen. Either a bar brawl--always a possibility in Honey's roadside bar and grill--or for a call telling them another job had come in.

As though Ryder was reading his mind, he spoke again. "Wish Sally would call. Now there's a piece of ass I'd take a crack at. Reminds me of Ca--"

"Don't even go there." Jayce curbed his annoyance, his voice clipped and brooking no argument. He knew full well who Sally looked like and it was a no-go area.

Ryder shut up and fast. Jayce was the more sensible brother, less given to temper and impulse. He used "that" tone to let Ryder know to button it.

Ryder leaned back in his chair, his long fingers turning the neck of his bottle round and round, while Jayce dealt the cards. Jayce looked up. He and Ryder were night and day, something which never failed to amuse him. They had the same face, the same body, but where his hair was golden blond, Ryder's was as dark as the raven's wing. Which made no difference because both kept their heads shaved to the scalp. Necessary in their occupation. Bringing in the bounties on bad-ass paranormals was dangerous business even for a couple of werewolves. Long hair begged for someone to grab a hold of it and use it to introduce a face to a hard surface, not something Jayce found fun.

Other than hair color, nature had made them identical. They both had their mother's green eyes, the same height, the same well-muscled physique. One Jayce knew was more due to good genetics and their werewolf blood than exercise and good nutrition ... unless his brother's long-held dream had come true and alcohol and junk-food were the recommended diet these days.

Life and their own choices made them different. Ryder preferred the biker look, black leather pants and a skinny-rib T-shirt showing off his impressive body to best advantage. It was a good look but Jayce couldn't put up with all that leather. Way too hot. He preferred the casual look. Combat pants and heavy boots, with a tight vest revealing an identical build to his twin. Both sported various tattoos and piercings.

Jayce slapped the last card on the table. Ryder's expression was a combination of discomfort, longing and deep, dark need. "I know what you're thinking and fucking quit it or I'm gonna need a cold shower again. Unless you can convince one of the girls they want an afternoon of sex with two horny wolves."

Jayce snorted, nice boys they weren't. One reason they couldn't think of the woman their handler in the office, Sally, reminded them of. She was nice, sweet, innocent and she deserved better, far better than the Vanir brothers. Didn't stop Jayce's body burning just at the thought of her.

He looked up and considered the crowd in the dingy bar. Crowd was an overstatement, it was too early for anything approaching a crowd.

A few of the regulars were in the booths, communing silently with their pints, and the normal girls were on waitress duty.

Ryder sighed in defeat. "Like that's going to happen."

The waitresses knew the brothers of old. Unless they could get one of them drunk they wouldn't be seeing any action from that quarter.

What they needed was a group of girls on a road-trip prepared to get down and dirty with a couple of bounty hunters. Girls liked the dangerous type, something Jayce knew from experience and was an old hand at capitalizing on.

The door banged open and his head shot up in hope. Perhaps the fates had heard his silent prayer and a horde of fresh-faced college girls just ripe to be corrupted would spill through the doorway.

The signs looked good, the figure silhouetted in the frame was feminine--slender and graceful. Then she stepped into the bar and he got a look at her face.

"Fuck."

This was such a bad idea.

Caitlin stood for a moment in the dim and grimy bar as she waited for her eyes to adjust from the brightness of the desert sun outside. The men she was looking for had to be here, their scent--a unique musk she'd been tracking for days--lay heavy on the air. If they weren't then she'd missed them by mere minutes.

Squinting, she turned in a half circle and tried to make her stubborn eyes focus quicker. If only she hadn't forgotten her glasses in her haste to leave she wouldn't be in this predicament. When the opportunity had come though, all she'd had time to do was grab a travel pack of clothes and her paws had hit dirt. She hadn't stopped running since, trying to find the Vanir brothers.

Her vision cleared and she peered short-shortsightedly into the booths. Interested looks met her gaze, ranging from polite inquiry right down to lascivious leers. None yielded the men she was looking for so she moved on, her footsteps ringing on the dusty floor. Her eyes flitted across the room, swept across the bar and beyond into the back.

Cat stilled. There they were, sitting around a small table, but neither looked happy to see her. Biting her lip she headed towards them. A shiver ran through her as she approached them, both watching her in silence, their eyes hard and unwelcoming.

Swallowing nervously, she stopped next to the table and looked down at them. Neither wolf moved, watching her with unreadable eyes. They'd always watched her, she realized. She liked it, a shiver of something, not fear but something else, running up her spine.

"Jayce, Ryder. How've you been?" She wanted to start polite before she dropped the bombshell.

"What are you doing here Caitlin?" Jayce's expression was tight as he answered.

"I came to find you two." Great, two ... okay, three ... could play the uncommunicative game.

"So, you found us, now turn around and get your pretty little ass back on out of here. Before your granddaddy comes looking and finds you with us." Jayce concentrated on his cards, his whole attitude dismissive.

Cat's lips compressed as anger battled with fond memories of the brothers. Ten years older than her, she'd idolized Jayce and Ryder from the moment they'd joined the pack with their mother, both gangly cubs on the edge of puberty. Unlike the others of their age group, they had never brushed off the inquisitive toddler Cat had been. They'd always made sure she was okay and took her back home when she'd toddled after them.

"Got rid of the leading strings a long time ago, Jayce. Not that they did any good in the first place."

His reply was a contemptuous snort. "Tell me about it. You always were a pain in the ass."

Cat was nothing if not tenacious though. So much so her grandfather had often joked she was more terrier than wolf. She'd followed the twins so much, they'd stopped taking her back to her family and simply included her in their escapades, the big brothers she'd never had. When they'd hit their teens and gotten a car between them the first ride had gone to Cat. A wistful smile curved her lips. That summer had been the last perfect summer she could remember. In the fall everything had fallen apart and changed Cat's view of the world forever. Jayce had challenged another wolf for his mate, Vanessa. He'd lost, as everyone expected, but it had been the last fight he'd ever lost. From then on the brothers had been hell-raisers, always in trouble with the pack and the human law. Then her grandfather had banished them. They hadn't argued, just walked out of town without a backwards glance, shattering Cat's teenage heart.

Anger coiled in her breast. Here she was trying to do something for them and she got this reaction? Well, screw them. Slamming her hands down on the table she glared at the twins.

"Grow up, Jayce. I've run three nights tracking you two. I'm not being patted on the head and turned back around again until you've heard me out," she snapped, frustration and anger making her voice tremble before she got it under control.

She'd surprised them, she could see that much from the small start Ryder gave and the way his brother went as still as a statue.

Ryder whistled lowly. "Oh what do we have here, kitty-cat's grown some claws?"

"Shut the fuck up Ryder," Cat and Jayce chorused in unison then glared at each other. Jayce's eyes locked with hers, fury in their green depths. Cat frowned a little, he was angry. What had she done to make him so mad at her?

"You shouldn't swear Caitlin, it's not ladylike." Ryder leaned back in his chair, his eyes intent on her.

Cat glared at him, annoyed at the trite response. "Perhaps I don't want to be a damn lady! Perhaps I'm bloody well sick of being a lady."

Jayce looked at her, his expression unreadable. Danger and tension swirled between them as Cat lifted her chin, refusing to back down. Why should she? She'd come here to help them, not be treated like the kid they remembered her being. She was a full grown woman now. One with her own mind.

"There are two types of women who come into places like this. Ladies and women who aren't ladies." Jayce's voice dropped low and husky, his green eyes as unreadable as his expression. Cat's fury mounted. He'd better not be about to say what she thought he was going to say. "Believe me sweetheart, in here you don't want to be the second type."

Cat set her jaw and jeered. "And why's that? Because I might--shock horror--hear someone swear or see a drunk?"

She was deliberately needling him, an act as sensible as baiting a tiger but she couldn't stop. Even so, she wasn't prepared for the reaction she got.

Jayce exploded into movement, surging to his feet and capturing her wrist in one big hand. Ruthlessly he hauled her up against his hard body, the breath knocked out of her lungs as her breasts were mashed into the brick wall of his chest.

Excitement struck low and deep, making her knees weak. Arousal and awareness surged through her body with each beat of her heart, her nipples tightening in response. His lips were so close and her gaze riveted on them for a second. Sensuously full they should have made him look feminine, made both brothers look feminine, but they didn't. Instead they highlighted the virile masculinity of their other features.

God, is he going to kiss me? I want...no, I need him to.

"No, because women who aren't ladies in here are fair game."

His eyes bored into hers, their green lit with a dark heat that made her go weak in the knees. For years she'd wondered what all that solid muscle would feel like, wondered whether he, if either of them, actually noticed her as a woman.

Now, held against him from breast to thigh, she had her answer as the bulge at his crotch pressed against her soft belly. Oh, he was noticing her as a woman alright.

"Women who aren't ladies in here get fucked. Good and hard. You want that, pretty little kitty-cat?" he taunted, pressing his erection against her. Cat gasped in shock, her hands clamping onto his upper arms to push him away. Something stopped her. He wasn't just big, he was huge. The scent of an aroused male wolf swirled about her and made her head swim. Cat bit back the whimper welling in her throat as her wolf--usually a meek and mild creature--rose in response. Oh God yes, she wanted some of that, a rush of liquid heat slipping from between her thighs as her pussy clenched.

"Fuck me, she's getting off on it."

Ryder's surprised whisper behind her reminded her they weren't alone. Cat blinked, breaking the spell between her and Jayce. His lip curled as he pushed her from him with force. She stumbled backwards and ended up on her ass in front of the table, looking up at him dumbly. His expression was hard and arrogant as he looked down.

"Leave," he advised, "unless you want to end up flat on your back servicing us both. Because there's no granddaddy here to protect you now kitty-cat."

Jayce felt like a shit, a complete and utter shit, as Caitlin's beautiful golden eyes filled with hurt. A groan welled up and was ruthlessly suppressed. Cat was his secret vice, she always had been.

Six years ago he and Ryder had had to leave the pack because of this woman--or girl as she'd been then--because sooner or later one of them was going to make a move on her and then all hell would have broken loose.

He nodded towards the front of the bar. "There's the door sweetheart, don't let it hit you in the ass on the way out."

Tears welled, spearing him through the heart. He could cope with everything but her tears. He'd never been able to stand it when Cat cried. Even as a child she'd been able to wind him around her little finger but thankfully she'd been too innocent to realize what she did to him and use it to her advantage.

"Jay..." Ryder started warily. "She found us. Surely..."

"No!" Jayce snapped, knowing what Ryder was going to say and rejecting the idea before it could take root in his head. That way lay madness ... and long hot nights of passion.

Because all he wanted to do was grab Caitlin by the wrist, haul her out to one of the rooms Honey rented out and spend all night balls deep in her softness. He knew once he'd had a taste of her, he'd never be able to let her go.

Caitlin looked from one brother to the other and held her hand out for one of them to help her up. Jayce cut a glance to his brother, a look that said plainly if he did, Jayce would take his hand off at the wrist. She sighed and climbed to her feet, dusting her hands off on the seat of her jeans. Jayce's body tightened savagely. She'd found them...

"But she's a big girl now Jay--" Ryder's tone was mulish but Jayce ignored him. He wanted Cat as well but ... she was pure. Not for the jaded games they played with their women, sharing them, fucking them in a hundred different and dirty ways. She deserved romance which was something neither Vanir brother had an ounce of in their bodies.

With a growl he turned on Ryder, slamming him up against the wall as he vented his anger and frustration on the only viable target in reach. "I said no," he hissed into his brother's face, his own tight with barely controlled need and lust.

Ryder didn't fight back, the air knocked out of his lungs by the powerful blow. Instead his hand curled around Jayce's neck as understanding filled his eyes.

"Hey, you wolves back there. Any of the kinky man-on-man shit and you're barred. Take your bitch and go screw about somewhere else," Honey yelled from the bar. "I run a clean place here and don't you forget it."

Jayce laughed as he dropped his hold on Ryder and stepped back. He knew the laugh was bitter, perhaps even a little on the maniacal side but he was past caring. He walked past Caitlin without looking at her. "Sure Honey, if you run a clean joint then I'm the fucking pope. And she's not our bitch."

"Well, if she isn't then you won't mind if someone else claims her."

Caitlin snapped her head around at the new voice, one full of slick charm and smarm that raised the hackles on the back of her neck.

Four new arrivals stood just inside the door, one still holding it open for others outside. Tall, and heavily built, they all wore the dusty leathers of bikers. Their eyes were all fixed on her, lust and interest burning within them. Inside, her wolf snarled a low growl of warning, one which spilled over into her human form as she caught the scent.

Were-cats.

Her growl was echoed by both the brothers as Ryder stepped in front of her protectively. "She's taken."

Blond and handsome at the front smiled and revealed canine teeth far too sharp for Cat's liking. A shiver wormed its way down her spine, the cool wash of fear filtering through into her scent. Only a little as she battled to control the emotion, but enough for Ryder to turn his head. Her senses on high alert, she caught the small movement and looked at him.

He winked to reassure her, his eyes full of easy charm, and Caitlin couldn't help breathing a sigh of relief. However much Jayce hadn't wanted her around, she knew they'd give up their last breath protecting her.

"Yeah, what he said," Jayce pitched in. The were-cat's gaze flitted from one to the other, noting the similarities. Then he smiled. It wasn't a nice expression.

"You're Jayce Vanir, aren't you?"

"Yeah, what of it?"

The cat reached inside his jacket and pulled out a snub-nosed handgun. Cat screamed as he pointed it directly at Jayce. "Got a message from your dad."


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