It just wasn’t Tami Gilbert’s night.
Pretending to seduce a werewolf and killing him in an alley is not exactly what she had in mind for her Friday night. But as a hunter for the Brotherhood of the Blood Moon, she is tasked with locating dangerous supernatural creatures and eliminating them, along with her tracker partner, the sexy and magically gifted, Nicholas Rubin. But relationships between hunters and trackers are expressly forbidden – and Tami’s been carrying this torch since they were fifteen.
As if life weren’t complicated enough …
Nicholas has been drawn to his partner since they were young trainees. But his first duty is to the Brotherhood. He can’t betray the centuries of rules that help keep their world safe. Even if it means never giving into his longing for Tami.
… Temptation takes on a whole new meaning!
After narrowly escaping death, Tami is unable to resist and succumbs to Nicholas’s kiss, surprised when he enthusiastically returns it. But when a sorceress wants revenge, she uses their attraction to put them both in danger. Racing against time Nicholas must fight to save Tami and break the spell that would take her from him forever.
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright 2021 by Lauren Smith
Cover Art by Mayhem Cover Creations
All rights reserved. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitutes unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained by contacting the publisher at [email protected] Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.
The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.
ISBN: 978-1-952063-53-4 (e-book edition)
ISBN: 978-1-952063-54-1 (print edition)
Grigori: A Royal Dragon Romance
Other Titles By Lauren Smith
About the Author
Hello Dear Reader!
I just wanted to tell you something quickly before you start reading. It isn’t often writers get to talk to you and we love talking to you!
Blood Moon on the Rise was one of the very first stories I ever wrote way back in 2012 when I was first learning to write romances. I practiced writing short stories, ie novellas in order to learn how to craft both an external plot art and a romance plot arc.
This was one of my very first forays into romance. Therefore it is only a novella, so please forgive me for it not being much longer. But this story is the start of something wonderful…this series (and yes there are many more Blood Moon stories to come), led to an editor asking me to write a dragon shifter romance trilogy after a single mention of a dragon in one of these Blood Moon stories. So if you have read my Brothers of Ash and Fire series, you will definitely want to check it out because the characters from all of the Blood Moon stories appear in those dragon books, causing lots of fun mayhem.
Well, I’ve talked to you long enough, I’ll let you get to reading! Thank you again for reading and hopefully enjoying this little fun paranormal romance.
- Lauren Smith
Her prey was so close . . .
A small crystal was tied to a leather band around Tamara Gilbert’s wrist as she waited inside a small, smoky bar in downtown Detroit. All around her, people were drinking and shooting pool, everything seemingly normal. But this bar was anything other than normal. For the last decade, Detroit had become a haven for supernatural creatures like vampires, werewolves, shifters, fae, and even pixies.
Tamara played with the crystal as her eyes scanned the room again and again, seeking out the creature she’d come to hunt: a werewolf named Antonio. For the last several nights, he’d been biting humans and leaving a string of corpses along the riverbank. His bloody games were stopping tonight. She brushed a hand through her dark wavy hair, smiling coyly at a man who was playing pool nearby. He shot her a wolfish grin in return, but Tamara didn’t let her gaze linger. She needed to appear friendly but not approachable, at least not until Antonio arrived.
The crystal suddenly hummed in a soft vibration against her skin as a warning of approaching danger. The magic trapped in the gemstone burned, getting her attention. It had been enchanted to warn her of Antonio’s approach. Her breath quickened. Soon she’d be hunting. Her heart skipped a beat as a rush of adrenaline shot through her system. The effect was drugging—the heightened sensations, the heady sense of power, the knowledge that she had the advantage. A smile teased her lips, and she bit them to hide her anticipation. She didn’t like to kill, but she took pride in knowing that she would destroy a threat to humanity tonight and save future lives.
As she leaned against the polished wood of the bar, her nose crinkled with irritation. After tonight’s mission, she would have to wash her clothes at least twice to rid them of the smell of stale cigarettes. Eyes roving over the chaos of the crowd, she took note of all the patrons, their physical stance, the placement of their hands, and the location of each person in relation to the three exits in the bar.
The bar’s door opened, and a swath of pale moonlight cut through the orange-tinted lights filling the entrance. A tall, broad-shouldered silhouette formed out of the tendrils of smoke, like a sinister dream. It was all going according to plan.
Half an hour earlier, she’d slipped down an alley off Jefferson Avenue and entered the infamous Walker Bar to wait for the very man who’d appeared in the doorway. She’d known he’d come this way, just like she always knew where supernatural creatures would show up. Half instinct, half tracking—it was all part of the job. Walker Bar was an easy guess. At the moment, she knew the majority of the people around her weren’t fully human. The air inside the downtown Detroit bar was hazy with smoke and pungent with cheap beer and even cheaper perfume. Black speakers hung from wood beams in the corners of the room, emitting the strangled strains of hip-hop with pounding rhythmic thuds against Tamara’s chest.
Tamara had a rare gift that had been passed down generation through generation. She was a hunter, of the supernatural variety. It wasn’t anything magical, but rather instinctual. Anything she needed to do, she could, with practice, patience, and extensive physical and mental training. Patterns of small scars covered her body, evidence of a life spent using her favorite talent—fighting. But first she had to put on a convincing show of a woman out on the town, looking for a fun night. Tamara faced the bar again, finally ready to order a drink.
“You about ready for a drink, sweetheart?” The olive-skinned barman winked at her, a wide grin splitting his face.
“Shot of whiskey, pour till your fingers get wet.” She turned back to the bar’s occupants and waited for the man she hunted to come closer.
He moved deeper into the bar, evil pouring off his body in nearly tangible waves that had her instincts screaming to fight.
“Showtime,” she muttered and faced the counter, inhaling the shot of whiskey. The sudden burn cleared her head and prepared her for what she had to do.
She kept her gaze fixed on the mirror behind the counter, gauging the new arrival. The figure moved fully into the light, revealing a tall, ebony-haired man, with shadowed eyes that made midnight appear pale. Tamara tucked her hair behind her ears and leaned heavily against the wooden bar, arching her back to display her healthy figure to advantage. She was definitely no twig, but in her line of work, she’d found vampires and werewolves appreciated a curvy body like hers. He moved in her general direction, making his reflection easier to see.
She toyed with the empty shot glass, rolling it between her hands, all the while sensing the man’s gaze on her. Knowing her prey’s instincts was key. Werewolves were particularly drawn to aggressive women. It was probably because those women enjoyed the rough and primal sex werewolves preferred. She shifted her weight, swaying her hips in a sensual thrust, drawing him in like a bee to a blooming calla lily. In the mirror, she saw his eyes fix on her ass, and the flash of violent, raw hunger that followed.
Definitely a werewolf. Tamara stroked one hand along her outer thigh as she drank another shot of whiskey, drawing his attention to her legs. He stalked toward her, the mirror revealing his close proximity at the same moment his warm breath fanned her neck. Swallowing her inner revulsion, she focused her thoughts on a man she wished was in this werewolf’s place. It was the only way she could stomach his touch.
“A drink for the lady.” He signaled the barman for another shot of whiskey.
Tamara slid her empty glass away and looked him in the eye.
“Make it a double,” she told the bartender.
“My name’s Antonio.”
Her eyes met his black ones with a rival intensity. His chiseled jaw sharpened with the curve of his smile, white teeth gleaming between his full lips. Tamara visualized him unbuttoning her tight blue jeans with an expert flick of his hand and brushing bare knuckles over her heated skin. She shivered with disgust, knowing what she had to do.
“I’m Tamara.” She kept her reply slightly disinterested.
“What on earth could drive a woman like you to drink in a place like this?” His voice was low, gravelly, rumbling across her skin and sending warnings skittering through her.
He was tall enough that when he rested one arm on the bar and leaned toward her, she barely came up to his shoulders. Tamara lifted her second shot to her lips and tipped it back in one swift movement before flashing him a wicked grin.
“My bastard boyfriend cheated on me. So here I am, in desperate need of company.” She layered her remark with a faint taste of sarcasm. Tamara let her lashes fall to her cheeks, then raised them slowly as she pretended to analyze his body with interest.
“Oh? Is that so?” His heavy-lidded gaze glimmered with rising lust. He casually caught one finger in her belt loop and tugged her against him. With a slow roll of his hips, he showed her just how interested he was. And by the size of the bulge, he was very interested.
“Hmm.” Tamara chuckled dryly and plucked his finger out of her loop. “I’ll need another drink before I’ll even consider that.” She looked back to the mirror.
Antonio pinned her against the bar from behind, his arousal digging into her bottom. Tamara bit her lip, the only outward sign she could show that she didn’t like this part of the job. She had to resist the natural urge to spin and attack.
He splayed his palms on either side of her elbows, boxing her in. Tamara watched as though from a distance when he buried his face against her neck, inhaling her scent. The scene was erotic, his dark body engulfing hers, dominating her. She allowed herself to give in to a fantasy she buried every day. A different man held her from behind, nuzzling her neck in anticipation of lovemaking. Her man . . . The one she wanted so badly it hurt bone-deep.
Shivers splintered along her spine, and desire stirred between her legs, but it had nothing to do with the man behind her. It was the other man she wanted, ached for. A man with cinnamon-brown eyes and a lithe, muscled body, with a smile that hit her behind the knees. A man she could never have.
The small pendant-shaped crystal fixed to the leather band on her wrist still burned, warning her of the true nature of the man behind her, as if she didn’t know she was playing with fire. After she had her fourth drink, she felt ready enough to do her job. It was time to take him out. Permanently.
The taking of a life was the part of her job she hated the most. It was her calling, her duty. Tamara would do anything to protect humanity from supernatural threats like this creature. His hands settled on her hips, fingers digging in as though to hold her in place. He bucked his pelvis slightly, the action instinctive, and she knew she had him.
“You wanna get out of here?” he breathed near her ear.
Tamara met his gaze in the mirror, hiding a smile. “Why not?” She snatched her purse and leather jacket from the barstool.
Antonio headed for the back door that led to an alley. He likes to work fast, this one. She pulled her jacket on, following him outside, and cast one glance over her shoulder. Where the hell was her backup? He should have been there, ready to tail them.
Dammit, Nicholas, where are you? She’d have to take care of the beast without him.
The moon was bright and round above them, only two days from being full. Antonio turned around once the bar door slammed shut, and then he tugged her jacket off her shoulders.
“You don’t need that.” His voice was husky, with a whisper of danger. He cupped her bare shoulders and shoved her back against the brick wall.
“You’re not gonna take me home?” she teased.
It was a long shot, but she’d hoped he would lead her back to the rest of his pack. She hadn’t sensed any other werewolves nearby, and that worried her. The knowledge that they were likely off somewhere else, killing and maiming innocents, made her stomach burn with nausea. This werewolf, Antonio, was a particularly vicious one and more dangerous than his packmates. The local supernatural creatures had taken to calling him “the Ripper.” He’d been leaving a wide path of bloody carnage, ripped bodies and entire families’ throats torn out. Tamara had finally gotten a vampire informant to open up and confess where the Ripper’s usual hangout was. Walker Bar.
Mentally, she assessed the increasing danger of the situation. The bricks of the wall bit into her shoulder blades. Steel-hard flesh was outlined under his tight gray shirt, rippling when he reached for the button of her jeans.
“Come on, sweetheart, I thought you wanted revenge on your ex. Nothing better for that than a good hard fuck,” he purred against her neck, his nose tracing her jaw. Antonio nipped his way up to her ear, as though in no hurry, while his hands unfastened her jeans. He slid one palm down her stomach, under her panties, and cupped her mound, pressing hard. Tamara’s head flew back, and she gasped, not with pleasure but with utter surprise at how fast he was.
Removing his hand, he lifted her off the ground, forcing her legs to wrap around his lean waist. His mouth caught hers in a hot kiss, deep and dark like his eyes. His tongue delved into her mouth, chasing her own with a hungry ferocity. It took every ounce of her willpower to fake interest, when instead she felt nothing but rage and the need to take him out.
He grew harder between her legs. A low growl escaped his lips, and he freed one hand from her waist to fumble with his belt buckle. Tamara broke her mouth from his, fighting to regain control. She had to take him down now, while he was still vulnerable. She couldn’t lose what little advantage she had.
“Whoa, not so fast there, handsome. We need protection. Get my purse, will you?” She nibbled on his ear, despising the role she had to play. She had to distract him, get him to stay back a minute so she could get the weapon she had hidden.
He grunted, dropped her legs from his waist, and snatched her purse off the ground before he shoved it into her hands. Tamara tried to dig around for what she needed while he fondled her breasts and invaded her neck with kisses and slow licks. She stifled a sigh of relief when her fingers closed around the handle of her gun.
Antonio looked up from her neck to catch her raising the gun.
He snarled and slapped the gun from her hand, just as the crystal on her wrist flashed with searing pain. It meant he was on the verge of changing into his werewolf form. The man stepped back, dropping her from his pulsating arms. She landed nimbly on her feet, arms raised and ready for a fight. Her eyes scanned the ground to find the gun lying a good distance away. Tonight is not going so well.
“Think you can fool me?” he growled. His black eyes swirled into a yellow glow, reflecting the moon above. “I know a hunter when I see one.” He laughed viciously and tore his shirt off.
He dropped his pants, and Tamara had only a glimpse of his naked body before he lunged.
The moonlight flashed over his morphing flesh as fur and fangs replaced skin and teeth. The huge black wolf knocked her to the ground, but Tamara was well trained. She tucked her knees against her chest, balling her body beneath the werewolf so she could roll backward with the movement, and sent the wolf careening over her head.
The werewolf toppled through the dirty alley, sending up clouds of dust. He rebounded, claws slashing at her legs when she kicked out. Tamara gasped as his sharpened claws shredded her thigh. Her feet collided with his face, and bones crunched beneath her boots, but the beast stumbled back. She had seconds to put precious distance between them.
The wolf howled, his snout aimed at the moon. He had caught the scent of her blood.
One bite, that’s all it takes to end my career as a hunter . . . and turn me into the enemy.
Tamara limped backward. The wolf took his time advancing on her, circling her on all fours, paws digging into the dirt of the alleyway. His eyes glowed red like fiery coals.
Her gun was too far away. If she tried to go for it, he’d attack the instant her back was exposed, and she’d be a goner.
Something beneath her boot shifted, and Tamara lost her footing. As she fell, the wolf leapt. She raised an arm in front of her face to shield herself from his lethal bite.
A violent flash of light exploded in front of her. The wolf collided with a pale-green wall of magic in midair. He fell back, stunned by his collision with the magical force field.
Tamara scrambled to her gun as the force field dropped. She raised the barrel and fired two silver bullets into the wolf’s chest. The loud double explosion of the bullets from the chamber echoed off the alley walls, almost making her eardrums bleed. The wolf let out an agonized howl as a crimson mist puffed up around the wounds on his chest. He crumpled into a black, bloody mass three feet away.
She collapsed on her back, panting for breath, pain slicing through her leg. Her head dropped back, eyes scanning the velvet night skies, counting the stars like she always did to calm down after a night fight. Blood roared in her ears, deafening her senses momentarily. She needed to get up, to keep moving.
Right after a fight, when adrenaline flooded her system and she felt safe, that was always the most dangerous time. But she couldn’t make herself move, not right away. It felt like her heartbeat was pounding in her leg where the werewolf had sliced her open.
“Tamara!” A low, anxious shout drew her head up.
Relief flooded her when she caught sight of the man emerging from the shadows by the bar’s back door.
“Where the hell were you, Nicholas? We said we’d meet at the bar at seven,” Tamara snapped.
Her partner, Nicholas Rubin, rushed over and knelt at her side. He sported a small cut across one of his high cheekbones, and his clothes were spotted with blood.
“Oh God, are you okay?” She reached for his cheek, and he flinched, jerking away at her attempt to touch him.
“I got waylaid. Apparently, our furry friend’s packmates caught up with me. They knew what we came here for. By the time I killed them and got inside, you were already gone. You couldn’t have waited? Dammit, Tamara . . .” His eyes assessed her injuries, his brow furrowing as he concentrated on her. “Come on, let’s get you home and patch you up.” Nicholas held out a hand.
Tamara winced when he pulled her to her feet. “Huh, some tracker you are,” she muttered.
She fingered the crystal on the leather band around her wrist, the one Nicholas had made for her. Even though it had a purpose for her job, she wore it the way a woman would a piece of jewelry from her boyfriend.
This was the man she wanted, the chocolate-haired, cinnamon-brown-eyed god she craved. He was her closest friend, her partner, and completely off-limits. The ache to touch him, to reassure herself that he was okay, was ever present.
Every single minute she was with him, she covered her feelings for him with sarcasm or offhanded remarks. Anything to keep distance between them. But not tonight. She had to feel him, comfort him, even if he wasn’t hurt.
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