King's Ransom [Eyes of Darkness Book 7]
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by Christy Poff
Category: Erotica/Paranormal Erotica
Description: When a young upstart alpha werewolf moves in on Ardalyn Hunter's grandfather's region, she finds herself in the center of pack politics while coming into her own as the Huntress. Ryman King becomes an unwitting pawn in the alpha's plan when he uses him to lure Ardalyn into the open. Will Ardalyn and Ryman's relationship be worth a king's ransom?
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: November 2010
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [311 KB]
Reading time: 196-274 min.
Ryman King paced.
No sooner had he left his hotel room in Killington, Vermont to return to Aspen, Colorado than his world drastically changed. Attacked and drugged, he lost consciousness--unable to remember anything that happened after the attack. His head ached telling him his trip to wherever he'd been taken had not been a smooth one. Touching his side, he started from tenderness and looked to see a massive bruise still forming. What the hell is going on?
Recalling the hours leading up to his present situation, he remembered spending time with his best friend Damon Holt and his White Queen Sascha along with her daughter and their growing brood. He'd left Damon's lodge heading to the hotel room he'd taken in order to quietly meet with Constance Banks.
Ever since one hot and heavy session in the pantry at her father's estate, they'd been enjoying a no-holds-barred, no-commitment affair though maintaining a discreet appearance when not together. They lived their separate lives but when they met, they became one for however long they had.
Ryman remembered the night they spent together, running in the open fields behind her father's home--free as the wind. He'd mounted her, thrusting his cock into her waiting body while his front legs held her in place. She yipped when he exploded into her, pressing her soft, brown pelt against his, needing the close contact. Once they returned to the hotel later, the night heated up again, Ryman taking her several more times while Constance drove him to do things he'd never considered doing.
One thing alpha males always had trouble controlling had been their desires. Most normal women could not handle the raw brutality of a sexually charged night or their size, for that fact. Constance had taken him and wanted more, Ryman giving it without question. But then again, she had her own story--her mate having been killed by hunters.
Now, he paced in a cell--caged like an animal at a zoo--and hated every second of it. He'd always had ideas of how the animals felt being jailed and on display but now he knew firsthand and it sucked to no end.
Running his hand through his dark hair, he leaned against the rear wall of his prison and calmed himself. Knowing he could not become agitated and that he absolutely must not change, he began to recall the teachings he'd learned from Julian and Elizabeth Hawthorne. If anything would get him through this ordeal, this would be it or a major factor.
"Is our guest here?"
"Yes, Your Highness," a uniformed guard answered.
"Give me a report on what he did once he returned from Bavaria."
"He visited with the Holts then a blonde woman--nothing else."
"I see and you're sure the blonde is not the one we're after?"
"Yes, sir. The bitch you're after is a huntress and deadly in either form. She's been tracked here in California and usually does not travel. Having her destined mate should lure her here without a problem."
"You're sure he's the one?"
"Yes, sir. From what information you gave us..."
"And you're positive King knows nothing about her?"
"Yes, sir," the man answered. "He's completely in the dark."
"Excellent. I want all copies of the legend but they must come from one of the old books. I need to know the exact wording if I'm to take her and use her against all the others."
"We're working on it but so far the only copy in English we can locate is under extreme security back east."
"Find a way."
The man left, leaving the other one he treated as royalty to gaze out the window.
"Soon, Ardalyn Hunter, soon."
Ardalyn Hunter felt tension in the air. She'd been out for her morning run when her breathing became labored as if the surrounding air closed in to strangle the last breath from her body. Stopping to catch her breath, she slowly breathed in deeply several times between drinking some water. Yes, Los Angeles, California had a reputation for its stagnating pollution but the green movement had helped with that plus she thought she lived far enough away from the problem's epicenter to be unaffected but something else had come into play and she had to find out what.
Deciding to walk the remainder of her route, she paced herself and arrived at her house half an hour later. Walking up the long driveway to her front door encompassed almost a mile but she'd designed it that way on purpose. Once someone entered the drive, they had better want to see her or they'd be unable to turn around until they reached the house. Living in the hills north of the city, she valued her privacy and so far, her efforts had succeeded.
Still, as far removed from the city as the property sat, she still felt the tension and had trouble breathing. Whatever caused the unrest had to be serious to affect her immediate surroundings which told her to make a phone call as soon as she showered and relaxed her respirations. A few minutes won't hurt--I hope...
Ardalyn walked into her huge house, small by California real estate standards but being hers, she didn't care. She'd owned it for years and it had become her sanctuary from the world. Having very few guests come to visit suited her fine since the fewer who came close to her, the less she had to worry about anyone discovering her secrets. God, if anyone finds out...
Heading upstairs, she stripped on the way and entered the shower stall after the temperature suited her. The heat helped her aches and in the process opened her system so she could breathe easily. Once she turned off the water, she toweled off then walked back into her bedroom where she stretched out across her huge bed.
The softness of the satin sheets touching her naked body aroused her but she ignored her body's natural desires. She'd been on her own for a long while and had vowed that no way would some alpha male come into her life and try to rule her--one reason for her solitary lifestyle. She refused to concede control of her life to anyone, needing her independence. Besides, as a huntress, she didn't need a male following her around and trying to do her job for her.
Picking up her cell phone, she pressed a number in her speed dial and waited. Moments later, she left a message and ended the call. Rolling over, she stretched again, got comfortable and fell asleep.
Starting off as usual, Ardalyn's dreams went to running free and hunting before turning dark. She saw images of a handsome--no, gorgeous--dark-haired man with piercing black eyes pacing in a cell. Signs of bruising became more apparent as he paced but he turned and leaned against the one solid wall the cell had. His hands over his head, she could see him taking deep breaths in an effort to calm himself.
"Where is she?" a voice asked.
"Your mate--where is she?"
"What mate? I don't have a girlfriend nor do I intend to find one."
"Think carefully before you answer again or I will make sure your pain worsens."
"I don't have a...mate," the hunk repeated.
"Then if that's the way you want things..."
Several men entered the cell and while two held him, the third one beat him until he could no longer stand.
Ardalyn bolted up, breaking into a cold sweat and unable to understand why she felt this man's pain. Her back ached in the exact places he'd taken hard hits while her stomach felt nauseous.
"What the hell is going on?"
The phone ringing startled her and as she reached for it, she pulled the sheet around her.
"Ardalyn, are you all right?"
"I'm fine. I just woke up..."
"You've had another dream, haven't you?"
"Yes, but that's not why I called though maybe it's linked."
"Come to the house and we'll talk. This is not something I believe we should discuss over the phone plus I have something to show you."
"I'll be there as soon as I can."
Ardalyn ended the call and curled up with the sheet wrapped around her. Somewhere nearby, a man suffered at the hands of others and she felt everything thing done to him. Only in legend did something like this happen unless...
Racing to her bookshelf, she pulled out a large volume then opened it. In a cutout hole laid an aging piece of paper. Carefully, she unfolded it and read it.
A huntress will be drawn out to take what is rightfully hers but at a huge price--a king's ransom, it could be considered. Needing to find him, she will search for her destined mate then fight to save him from those using him as a lure to bring her into the open. In the process, she will feel everything he does as well as the extent of anything happening to him.
Their bond is legendary and, as in other destinies, separation is fatal.
Once they mate, the pair will be a force to be reckoned with and no one will win if they are challenged--their power fierce and strong.
The Huntress will know instinctively when she must seek her mate out for if she does not, those depending on them will suffer.
Ardalyn shook her head in denial.
"No, this can't be happening--not to me! I'm not this huntress they wrote about!"
Reading further, she winced.
If the Huntress does not find her mate or he rejects her, she will no longer function as destined, instead dying a slow death.
"No, no, no! This cannot be true. Fuck my life!"
The vision came back to her as she remembered the men kept asking the same question over and over--Your mate, where is she? The words echoed in Ardalyn's head, a severe headache overwhelming her. Seeing her grandfather and explaining the weirdness of the day on top of the images she'd seen in her dreams would not help it either. Damn!
Quickly dressing in a tank top over black denim jeans and boots, she grabbed a lightweight jacket after she slipped into her shoulder holster. Never leaving home without her weapon--a Sig P220 .45 caliber--she felt better knowing she could protect herself if need be. She'd ordered the black Elite model with combat night sights then had her specialized rounds customized to fit it. With what she knew now--or didn't know--she wanted it with her.
Ardalyn headed to the garage and her second major extravagance after her house--a 2009 Ford Mustang with the Shelby performance package. One thing she'd always thought to be sexy as hell--a good-looking muscle car. Granted, she hadn't been born yet when the classic '68-'69 Mustangs hit the road but the one she owned suited her just as well. Plus with the high performance engine she'd bought, she got a car that sped off when she put her foot on the throttle without hesitation.
Backing the car out of the garage, she got out and quickly set the alarm before closing the garage door. Sure that it had closed all the way, she backed up then drove down her driveway. Once on the highway, she slid in a Nickelback CD and settled in for the drive up the coast toward Montecito. With a little over two hours on the road, she made sure she had what she needed for the drive plus Ardalyn kept a packed overnight bag in the truck in case she ended up staying at The Chateau, his name for the huge sprawling estate in the hills.
Settling in for one of her favorite drives, she put everything out of her mind and enjoyed it. Please, Grandfather, straighten this out for me...