The last Nocturne romance in my Phoenix Force miniseries
Release date June 2014
Can love save a cursed woman from the demons who've enslaved her?
When navy SEAL commander Dale Curtis encounters the mysterious Keira Solomon, he doesn't remember her—but his body does. Her presence brings up half-hidden memories of torture at the hands of demons. But her scent calls up desires that can only be described as magickal. Neither Dale's abilities as a Primary Elemental Mage, nor his access to military intel, can help him to untangle the dark secret of Keira's identity.
Beautiful, innocent shape-shifter Keira knows that Dale is the one man strong enough to conquer the demons that have enslaved her. But he can only help her if her powers are great enough to heal the scars that haunt him. Together, they can combat the dark forces that threaten humans and paranormals alike—if Dale can learn to trust Keira…and his heart.
EXCERPT FROM DEMON WOLF
copyright 2014 by Bonnie Vanak
Ladies night at the paranormal Dive Bar.
Once a month, Tom dropped the magick shield blinding humans to the bar’s presence. He announced two for one drinks and the human women streamed inside as if he’d offered marriage proposals to millionaires.
The custom was for regulars, who liked human women warming their beds once in a while. Tom’s bar was a short distance from Little Creek, home to Seal Team 21’s elite Phoenix Force in Virginia. When in town, the secret force of paranormal SEALs crowded the seats.
Lt. Commander Dale “Curt” Curtis, commanding officer of Seal Team 21, ignored the chatter around him. He sipped his beer, waited for his burger.
Scar tissue pulled and stretched uncomfortably, reminding him of a body no woman wanted to see naked. While in the hospital, his sometime girlfriend had visited. Melissa had taken one look at the blood and bandages and left.
No Mage female wanted him. No human, either, even if she didn’t sense he was a powerful Primary Elemental Mage who could fry her to ashes with a single flick of his finger.
Dale knew he was better off alone.
“You ok, Commander?”
Tom always called him by his title. Dale nodded. It had been the ultimate bitch of a day, back at work only ten days after two long months of mandatory medical leave. Paperwork piled to his nose, submerged in long meetings, most of his team deployed to dispatch a last minute threat overseas. Only Ensign Grant “Sully” Sullivan remained at base. Chief Petty Officer Sam “Shay” Shaymore was in North Carolina, training in close quarters combat with SEAL ‘norms, human Navy SEALS. He’d taken his new wife with him.
Dale relaxed into a smile as he thought of the much younger Shay. Last month the SEAL married his girlfriend. Dale had proudly escorted the fatherless Kelly down the aisle. A wedding he’d never forget, glad to see the two Mages declare their love in a lifelong bond. Those two had rescued him from the dark, dank basement where he had only memories of pain and blood.
And the scent of a woman… he could never forget.
Across the bar, Sully flirted with a pretty, slightly tipsy blonde. The woman rested her hand on the SEAL’s arm, giving him a suggestive look. Someone was getting something something tonight.
Dale hoped Sully remembered to glove before love. A half-human bastard faced a lot of hardship in the real world.
Children. Setting down his beer, he closed his eyes. One regret he’d had in his 11 year marriage. Kathy hadn’t wanted any. The Mage had used one excuse after another and finally, she just left, but not before admitting she’d been sleeping in another man’s bed.
You’re a good man, Dale. But you’re never around, not when I really need you.
Deep inside, he still craved a home life, a wife, and a family. But what woman would want him now, his body looking like a roadmap to hell?
Someday, maybe, he’d find someone else. But first, he’d find the demon wolf responsible for scarring his body and when he did, that shapeshifter would pay. Such evil must be eradicated before innocents got hurt. Dale would do so gladly, sending the SOB straight to hell.
Suddenly he felt someone watching him. Very carefully.
Dale felt eyes upon him, but scanning the bar, saw nothing unusual. Yet his Mage instincts prickled. Someone covertly studied him, sizing him up.
Tom slid a steaming burger, fries piled high, before him. “Here you go, Commander. My treat.”
“Thanks Tom,” Dale said, surprised.
“No, thank you, sir. If not for you… ”Emotion shadowed the man’s face. “What you did to free those kids, sacrificing yourself, hell, we’re all grateful to you. I’ve got five kids and the thought of them enduring what you did…” The cougar shifter’s spine stiffened. “I’m proud to call you a friend. You’re more than a SEAL. You’re a damn fine officer and gentleman.”
Holy hellfire, the man actually saluted him. Uncomfortable with the praise, Dale nodded. “No thanks necessary.”
A few of the bar’s regulars studied him like a moth pinned to a corkboard. Damn, all he wanted was a burger, not this scrutiny. Dale began to eat.
The brunette next to him spoke. “Come here often?”
Once in a while, against the ladies room wall, pushing deep and hard, a woman’s long legs wrapped around his thrusting hips. Dale nodded.
She gave a sultry smile, red lips moist and pursed. The tight blue dress clung to a body that had caught quite a few glances from the bar’s male occupants.
“You’re a SEAL.”
Wonderful. Human Frog Hog. He swallowed a bite, shrugged.
“My second cousin’s best friend is a Navy SEAL.” Now she slid over, her long, red nails on his forearm. “I adore you guys. I can’t thank you enough for what you do for our country, to keep us safe. You’re so brave and strong, and I’d love to demonstrate my appreciation.”
Hollow words, spoken by a woman who just wanted to fuck a SEAL. Maybe one time he’d accept her offer, follow her home and show her the alternative meaning of Hoo Yah. Not tonight. Tonight he felt every single one of his 420 years.
The woman’s nose wrinkled as she studied his right arm. Dale automatically moved to hide the jagged gash. “That’s a nasty scar. Did you get it in combat?”
No, I got it, and a rash of others, when I was tied up in a basement and tortured by a wolf’s claws. Care to know more?
Appetite turned to dust, Dale slid his plate back. “Thanks Tom.”
Clear disappointment showed on the woman’s face as he pushed back his stool. She turned to her right, engaged a member of ST 21’s support staff, the vampire enthralled with the woman’s long neck.
Nice night for a quick bite, he thought in sour amusement. Like every human here, she would recall only a pleasurable buzz the next day, assume it was alcohol induced.
As he went to leave, a familiar scent hit him. Not the floral perfume of the human women, nor the heavy cologne of the males pursuing them. Something deeper, richer, more fragrant.
It reminded him of crushed autumn leaves, the burning richness of smoke on a hearth, the musky scent of pure … sex.
Dale whipped his head up, a memory pinging.
There, across the bar. An ebony-haired woman, a wineglass before her. Eyes blazing with fire and life glanced up. His gaze fell to her right hand.
Each finger was a claw, tipped with a sharp black talon.
Shock slammed into him. And pain. Distant memories… knives over raw flesh, biting back the screams that rose in his throat. Salt water dripping onto the fresh gouges, searing his skin with her tears.
He’d been tortured and left for dead, and recalled only flashes of memory. But that scent, it wound around him in an erotic ribbon, and pulled tight. His body hardened, blood pulsing to his groin.
Bleeding from a thousand cuts, the pain so deep he couldn’t breathe, and that scent filtering through the agony, turning his cock to steel. Forgetting the pain, wanting nothing more than to roll her beneath him, spread her wide and drive hard into her soft, wet flesh.
He hadn’t been merely tortured, but humiliated and debased, getting turned on, and then feeling something raking cold claws over his warm flesh…
This woman had something to do with those long, dark hours in the basement.
Dale went preternaturally still. The woman stared at him, wide red mouth parted in apparent shock. Then she slipped off the stool and fled.
Not so fast, he thought grimly. Dale raced after her. In the parking lot, against a parked SUV he caught her. Dale grabbed her arms, pinned her against the vehicle. The scent faded, leaving only the exotic smell of expensive perfume. But he hadn’t imagined it. Wasn’t going crazy.
“Who the hell are you?” he roughly demanded.
Fear clouded her gaze. “Not hurt, not hurt,” she whimpered.
Gentling his voice, he loosened his grip. “Who are you? I remember only darkness, pain, and your scent.”
The woman wriggled away, lifted a hand to his face. The velvet of her voice stroked across his senses. Sexual energy jumped between them at the mere brush of her fingers. “Strong and courageous, is your heart, yet lonely and hurting… so much pain.” Dale lost all sense. He lowered his head and did what he’d lusted to do all those long, anguished hours in the dark after he’d been turned into a pitiful, whimpering shell of a man.
Crushing her against him, he fisted a hand into her hair and kissed her hard. She responded back with a moan, her tongue tangling with his in a fury of erotic heat.
And then she began to struggle and nipped him on his lip, hard enough to draw blood. Dale jerked away in shock. Son of a …
His mind fogged. Closing his eyes, he fell into a dizzying vortex, where memory was once more a clouded dream. When he opened his eyes, he was alone.
The woman, if there had been a woman, vanished into the shadows. Just like before, he could not recall her, making him wonder if she wasn’t a dream.
Or his worst nightmare.