SHE BELONGS TO MY ENEMY. I WON’T STOP UNTIL SHE’S MINE.
I’m the ultimate predator. I live by a code. Hunt or be hunted. Kill or be killed.
Then I meet her. The second I catch her scent, I know she was meant for me. She was born to wear my mark and I was born to protect her.
She belonged to my enemy until I took her. He wants her back. He’ll wage war to get her, but no one’s taking her from me.
She’s mine, and I’m not letting her go.
Grizz bends over the stove, his corded biceps bunching as he stirs the sizzling meat. He covers the pan and heads to the fridge, rummaging around there for another package wrapped in butcher’s paper. He moves fluidly for such a big guy. His powerful bulk flows from the fridge to the stove and the controlled grace of his movements makes my breath flutter in my chest.
My fox is fascinated by him. I have to admit, she has a point. He’s so large and rugged, he belongs on a mountain, chopping down trees. On a construction site, working with his hands. Or in a war zone, unleashing the violence I sense inside him. Watching him cook in the kitchen is like having Godzilla knit you a sweater. The great and powerful executing the mundane. Every little domestic thing he does is a miracle.
“What is this?” A rough thumb traces my shivering pulse. His anger vibrates through me, but somehow my fox knows it’s not directed at me. I lie docile in his grip, obedient when he tips me up to meet his blazing eyes. He’s close to shifting.
I put my hand to my neck. As soon as my fingers touch the seam running up my neck, I remember. “It’s nothing,” I tell him. “A bite.”
“That’s not a bite,” the bear growls. “He fucking gnawed on you.”
I can only nod. My vampire master usually fed neatly from the artery, but that night he’d wanted to punish me.
Then my captor does something I’d never in a million years expect. Both his big hands settle around my head, gently angling my head back to study the old wound.
“Scarred,” he murmurs. “Takes a lot for a shifter to scar. There’s only one way for sure to do it.”
I nod. I know how shifters scar. The marks on my neck are like a brand, signalling my weakness. Telling any shifter who knows the signs that I’m vampire food. I’m scarred like a human.
I close my stinging eyes. I’m so sick of being a victim.
“Hey,” his thumb strokes my chin. “It’s okay. The scars aren’t so bad. I didn’t even notice it before.”
My face crumples further and he tugs me close, saying gruffly, “Didn’t mean to hurt you.” His voice is gravelly but his arms around me are gentle. “Now,” he sets me back an inch so I can see his face, “we’re gonna lie down and sleep. It’s been a long night and you need it. No more running.”
I bite my lip. I can’t promise that.
A rumble like an avalanche from the rock hard chest. “You run, I won’t like it. There’ll be consequences. Understand?” His thick fingers squeeze my nape, not choking but hard enough to make my spine go limp, signalling submission.
“Yes,” I answer. “I understand.” I understand consequences real well.
I wait but he doesn’t move, doesn’t shift his grip. I’m beginning to think he’s gonna hold me like this all day when he kneads my neck a little and tips my head back to meet his gaze. His eyes are light, his bear still close, but he looks calm, thoughtful. The rough stubble and jagged scar make him look rugged, not ugly.
That’s when it really hits me: he’s scarred, like me.
“Name?” he asks.
I blink at him, still wondering about the scar. Shifters don’t scar easy, he said. How did he get his?
“Name, Kit. What do I call you?”
“Me? Oh. Jordy.”
He grunts in acknowledgement and drops his hand. I immediately miss it’s comforting weight. I catch his hand before he can pull away. He stills as if my soft touch freezes him. Which I know it might--my hands are always cold. But I’m no match for a shifter, any shifter really, much less one of this bear’s size and weight.
“What’s your name?” I ask. A part of me is shocked by my brazenness. Another part of me is too curious to keep from asking, too eager to get to know him to let him go.
“Grizz. Short for Grizzly.”
I cock my head to the side. “That your real name?”
“Nope.” He moves away as if to underscore the point that his nickname is all I’m gonna get. I wipe my face of disappointment as he gets up from the bed.
“Here,” he’s back, shoving a carton in my face. “You need to drink.”
He watches as I drain half the carton. “You need the bathroom?” he asks as I hand it back.
He sits and turns off the light. In the darkness, my senses go on alert. Grizz is a big shape next to me, warm and golden. My fox sees the world through scent, and to her the grizzly is a softly glowing sun. He smells comforting and familiar, like sugar cookies or gingerbread.
The bed creaks as he sits down and I push back to the wall. “What are you doing?” I squeak. Not because I’m frightened of him, but because I’m excited, and my eagerness frightens me.
“Gonna get some shuteye. You too. We have a long day after this, after an even longer night.”
I lick my lips, considering. “You’re keeping me here?”
“For now. No more roaming.” He gives me a dominant push. “No sneaking out.”
“What are you gonna do with me?”
“Nothing bad. Just sleep.” His voice drops an octave. “Do I have to order you?”
If he does, I won’t be able to wake up and try to get out of here. Until the order wears off, I won’t be able to get up at all.
“No, no,” I say. “I’ll sleep.” I burrow deeper into the covers, curling around a pillow. After a moment, the bed creaks as he does the same.
We both settle in side by side, back to back, and even though we’re not touching, I can feel him close to me.
“It wasn’t locked,” he says gruffly after a while.
“The cage wasn’t locked. You told me your master put you there, but the cage wasn’t locked.”
“Oh,” is all I can think to say.
“You could’ve left at any time, but you didn’t. Why?”
“To please my master.”
“He’s not a very good master.”
“He saved me. He provides for me and protects me. “ I swallow anything else I would say. Augustine isn’t perfect, but he’s delivered on everything he promised. That’s all I can ask for. I owe him my loyalty, and my life.
“He loaned you out, beat you, fed from you. Then locked you in a cage.”
“The cage is my home.”
He sighs as if he understands but wishes he didn’t. “You going to be okay without it?”
“I’ll be good,” I promise in a whisper.
“That’s not what I meant. Does your fox need the cage to feel safe?”
“No.” I lick my lips, wanting to explain that I already feel safe with him. “The cage...it was more for my master’s benefit. My master doesn’t know how to handle my fox. Once, she bit him.”
“Your master Augustine. A vampire.” His tone is dry.
“He should be able to fucking handle it. In any case, turnabout’s fair play.” he mumbles the last part.
“I mean, He’s biting you,” The big guy strokes the scar on my neck. “Maybe your fox doesn’t like it. Maybe she thought to give him a taste of his own fangs.”
I giggle, even though it’s not funny. My master was so angry when my fox acted out. He didn’t let me out of the cage for days.
When I explain this, the big man’s face gets dark. Scary dark. My fox pokes up her head, fascinated. I’m smarter. I sit quietly.
“Maybe you need a new master.”
“Grab some dresses.”
“What type?” she asks. She looks up at me, so sweet and trusting. If only she knew what I want to do to her.
“Fuck if I know. Dresses. I like these.” I turn her away from me, towards a rack of floral, flouncy outfits.
She fingers them. “They’re pretty. “
I grab a few, including the ones she touched longingly.
Blushing, she swaps them out. “I’m not an extra small.”
“You’re extra small to me.”
Before she can leave to try on the dresses, I stop her. “Panties too. Did you forget?”
“No,” she flushes. “I don’t usually wear them.”
I growl. “Out here you wear them. In the house you can go bare.”
“Is that an order?” she asks. I’m about to pull her into a dressing room and bend over over when I realize she’s teasing.
Growling I stomp off, pushing the cart so no one can see my raging hard on. She takes a moment to change, so I’ve barely got myself under control before she finds me.
“Is this okay?” she calls. She’s in a little dress, a floral thing with straps that leave her arms bare. It hugs her body, showing off her slight curves. She looks sweet and wholesome and innocent, and I’m just a big old grumpy bear.
“Yes. Good. Get a few of those.”
“Do you want me to wear it today?”
Yes. I want you to wear it while I drive us back to my den, your head in my lap. Then I want to carry you to my bed, rip it off and fuck you until you cum.
“Not today,” I manage to growl. “Got shit to do. Something practical.”
“Okay, Grizz.” She skips off.
I hide behind a display of jackets and adjust my jeans. Dress shopping with Jordy--not happening again. I’m turning into a fucking pervert. There’s an easy solution: get her home, tie her to my bed. But that’s not why I took her. I’ve got a job to do.
“Here,” I reach behind me and pull out another bag from the pile on the backseat. “I almost forgot. I grabbed these while you were in getting dresses. I hand her a pack of colored pencils and an adult coloring book. Her eyes go wide but she takes them before the light turns green and I hit the gas.
“Saw you doodling on my stuff,” I keep my eyes on the road.
“Don’t apologize. It looked really good. I figured you’d like to do it, if you’re grabbing pieces of trash to doodle on.”
“I do,” she holds the book and pencils to her like an award for best submissive in club Toxic. Like it’s a treasure.
“Well, now you don’t have to use trash. I’ll get you a sketchpad, too, if you want.”
Her face lights up. She’s practically bouncing in her seat, so sweet and beautiful my chest tightens.
“Thank you, thank you,” she breathes and before I can stop her, leans in to give me a peck on my scarred cheek. My cock perks up and I’m a second away from letting her know how she can show her gratitude when she pulls away and looks up at me adoringly. Fates, just the look on her face is enough to get me off. No good. I gotta shut this down.
“It doesn’t mean anything.” I announce and she pulls back, still glowing.
“I know.” she says, but she’s lying. But, when it all comes down to it, so am I.
As soon as we pull into the industrial area, Grizz changes. His face hardens, his eyes locking on a nondescript warehouse on one side of a long chain link fence. A few cars are parked close to it, but he parks far away.
“What is this place?”
“No man’s land. Not shifter, not vampire. They both claim it, though. But everyone knows what happens here is off the radar. Doesn’t count. No retaliation allowed.”
My eyes trail back to the building. “Retaliation for what?”
“You’ll see. Here,’ he shrugs out of his jacket. “Put this on.” He continues I scramble to obey, “When you’re here, you’re my property.”
The statement gives me zings in my things, and he notices it. “Not like that. I’m not collaring you.”
I put my hand to my neck. The vampire’s scar is clear enough mark of ownership. Grizz thinks so too, his face turns dark. “You don’t belong to him.” His hand surrounds my neck, a living collar. His fingers are rough against my skin. His face dips to mine and he growls. “He mistreated you, and I stepped in. Shoulda done it sooner. Would’ve, if I’d known. Now you’re in my care. That means when we’re here, stay close, stay quiet, follow my lead. You understand?”
“Yeah. Like high protocol.”
His brow wrinkles. “Not sure what that means, Kit.”
“It means you want me to behave a certain way, and if I don’t, there’ll be consequences. High alert for both of us.”
His fingers gentle, stroke my scar. “High alert is right. In my den, it’s safer, we don’t need protocols. Here, one false move could be dangerous. I wouldn’t bring you here, but did want to leave you alone. So stick with me, I’ll get you through. Got it?”
“Grizz,” I catch his hand. “I know you told me not to run. It’s nothing personal. I’m bound to Augustine. I….owe him.”
“You owe him nothing. Not that I can see.” Now he strokes my cheek and I find it hard to breath. “It’s okay. It’s the way you’re wired, I’m getting that. I’m going to work on it though. Maybe you owe me more than him, you’ll forget him, yeah?”
I nod, swallowing on a dry throat. I like the sound of that. Way, way too much.
USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR RENEE ROSE is a naughty wordsmith who writes kinky BDSM novels. Named Eroticon USA's Next Top Erotic Author in 2013, she has also won The Romance Reviews Best Historical Romance, and Spanking Romance Reviews' Best Sci-fi, Paranormal, Historical, Erotic, Ageplay and favorite couple and author. She's hit #1 on Amazon in multiple categories in the U.S. and U.K., is often found on the list of Amazon's Top Author list. She also pens BDSM stories under the name Darling Adams.
Lee Savino has grandiose goals but most days can’t find her wallet or her keys so she just stays at home and writes. While she was studying creative writing at Hollins University, her first manuscript won the Hollins Fiction Prize.
She lives in Richmond, Va with her awesome family> You can find her on Facebook in the Goddess Group (which you totally should join).