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Huntbound (Moonfate Serial Book 2), page 1

 

Huntbound (Moonfate Serial Book 2)
 


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Huntbound (Moonfate Serial Book 2)


  HUNT

  BOUND

  Moonfate Serial Part Two

  By: Sylvia Frost

  All characters appearing in this work are fictional. Any resemblance to persons, events or locations is only coincidental.

  Copyright © Sylvia Frost 2014

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this text may be reproduced in printed or electronic form without prior permission, unless used for review purposes.

  Edited by Carol Davis

  Cover by Frost Designs

  Acknowledgments:

  Thanks go to many people, but especially to my lovely boyfriend and my incredible author friends, Tasha Black, Viola Rivard & V.M. Black. As well as a huge thank you to my last minute crack beta team, Maia Sepp, Sera Bright, and Joey! You guys saved the day.

  Moonfate Serial

  Moonbound (September 28, 2014)

  Huntbound (October 31st, 2014)

  Bloodbound (November 31st, 2014)

  Heartbound (December 31st, 2014)

  For more information on the Moonfate serial, sign up for my newsletter at Sylviafrost.com

  Table of Contents

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter One

  “Since werebeasts faded into extinction, they’ve turned from monsters into myths. And myths, like all stories, are nothing more than a mirror. Through them we understand ourselves.”

  -Beasts, Blood & Bonds by Dr. Nina M. Strike

  I wake up with my nose planted on a hard linoleum floor that reeks of chemicals. It’s cold against my cheek. No, freezing.

  My house is gone.

  Groaning, I roll onto my side and take in the room.

  Windowless white brick walls surround a twin bed made with military precision. The only personal touch in the space is a shabby paperback on a metal nightstand, the pages stained yellow.

  My knees ache as I rise, and I have to rub my hands against my bare arms to keep my fingers from going numb. Jesus, it must be sub-zero in here, but that doesn’t make any sense. It’s May.

  A sour, dry taste has taken root in my mouth, and my body still feels sluggish. It’s as if this is all a video I’m trying to stream over a bad Internet connection. Or I’ve been drugged.

  Oh, shit. I’ve been kidnapped. Whoever took Lawrence must have come back and taken me too. My heart thrums in double time.

  A downward glance reveals I’m still wearing my slightly damp black jeans and leather-trimmed long-sleeve shirt. At least whoever kidnapped me didn’t take them off.

  My breath catches in my throat, but before I can devolve into a full-blown panic attack I notice something I missed on my first examination. On the far wall there is a door. An open door. One I’d swear wasn’t there a second ago.

  I shake my head. I’m definitely drugged. What kind of kidnapper leaves such an easy way to escape? It’s this thought that keeps me from running to the exit.

  Instead I fall onto the bed, needing to sit down. “Okay, okay, okay,” I mumble to myself. “What do you remember?”

  Last night Orion North, a werewolf and my destined mate, invaded my dreams and then my reality when he found me in an alleyway after work. He was beautiful, domineering, and it was only by mixture of luck and will that I was able to walk away from him and not succumb to his seduction. However, fate would not be denied, and when I came home I found that my vampire best friend and roommate, Lawrence, had been kidnapped, and his lover, a werepufferfish, was dead in my living room.

  I didn’t want to involve the Federal Bureau of Supernatural Investigation, so I caved and called Orion instead to ask for help. He agreed. I remember going out to the living room, seeing Cooper, the pufferfish. Dead. Familiar red pooled around his limbs. He didn’t smell. I remember thinking he — his body — should smell.

  Another wave of nausea washes over me, and I grip the bed frame so hard its rusty granules dig into my hand. Even after the memory of Cooper’s dead body evaporates, the wrongness stays. It’s this place. It doesn’t feel real, somehow.

  I take a deep breath, the cold air stinging my teeth.

  I waited in the living room for an hour, and then two. But Orion didn’t come. So I headed to my bedroom, unable to stare at the dead body any longer, and too exhausted to think of anywhere else to go. I couldn’t leave, so I lay down on the bed, thinking I would just rest for a second.

  Oh, God. I fell asleep. The reason none of this feels real is because it isn’t. This must be a dream.

  When I look around for a second time, the walls have a new, imposing significance.

  I would pinch myself, but I know that the vivid dreams I have — the ones caused by the crescent of white fur on the inside of my wrist, called a matemark — aren’t like normal nightmares. Here I can feel pain, and cold, and the only way to wake up is to live through the dream to its inevitable conclusion…or for my weremate to end it.

  Except this can’t be a nightmare. I always dream of the same thing every night: my parents’ murder by werebeasts in the forest of Letchworth State Park.

  The open door pulls my gaze. Matemark dreams aren’t like real life, where details are meaningless. If the door is open here, it means something’s going to come through it.

  But what?

  From the hallway I hear footsteps.

  Damn. I have seconds, maybe, before whoever it is arrives, and there’s nowhere to hide. The springs moan as I hop off of the bed. Whatever’s coming, I’ll face it standing.

  The footsteps stop.

  From the hallway comes a voice that I know as well as my own, even though I only heard it for the first time yesterday.

  “I will see you tomorrow for the changing, Father.”

  Orion?

  Except he sounds wrong. Not the pitch of his voice, which is just as deep as ever, but the tone. It’s so formal, so restrained. Caged.

  I grab the bed frame again for balance and wince at the pricklingly cold metal.

  “Artemis.”

  A man who is both Orion and not Orion looms in the doorway. He’s got the same tangled blonde hair, broad shoulders and rough, square jaw, but his eyes are different. Instead of flickering like an aurora, they remain a static, glacial blue as they pierce me.

  I gape at him. “Orion?”

  In one single motion he pushes the door closed behind him and enters the room. “How long have you been here?”

  “I don’t know.” I back up against the bed. “I don’t even know who you are.” I gesture to him vaguely. “You look so” — cruel, human, sad — “different,” I whisper.

  “Being here has that effect on me.” His lips twist into a sour smile, and he gives me one more probing gaze before he prowls right toward me.

  “But where is here?” I stumble back toward the bed, the springs squeaking as they suddenly take my weight. “This is a dream, isn’t it? It’s not real.”

  He doesn’t answer, just takes another step toward me. And another. He doesn’t even spare a glance to the space around him. It’s like he’s been here a thousand times before.

  “W-what are you doing?” The chattering of my teeth makes it hard to get the words out. As does the fact that Orion’s close enough now that I can see the dark determination sparkling in his navy blue eyes.

 
Does it matter where we are?” He stops only an inch away from me, his eyes raking over my body, claiming every curve in a single perusal. “All that matters is getting out.”

  A fingernail of cold scrapes up my spine as I press my back up against the wall. “And how are we going to do that? This isn’t my nightmare. If it was, it would’ve ended the moment I saw you, wouldn’t it? That’s how it worked the last time.”

  “But it’s not working that way this time, is it, Little Mate?” He leans forward onto the bed. I know he must be heavier than me, he’s certainly larger, but somehow with his grace he manages to move onto it without the springs squeaking. “You walking away from me in the alleyway must have damaged the bond. So we’ll have to try to strengthen it if we want to dissolve the dream.”

  “Strengthen it how?” My stomach flips with his nearness. There’s nowhere to go. I swallow and try to scoot toward the other end of the bed, but Orion’s hands come down on either side of me with inexorable slowness.

  “Like this, Artemis,” he says.

  And then his lips are on mine.

  He tastes different in the dream. Sweeter, stronger, and so blessedly warm. For the warmth alone I lean into the kiss instinctively, my numb lips springing to life under his subtle ministrations. I close my eyes, needing more of him, grateful for the way rational thought flees when his tongue teases the edges of my lower lip.

  When he touches me I don’t have to worry about anything. Not Lawrence. Not my parents. Not the dream. It all fades away.

  But only for a moment. All too soon the cold starts to press in on either side of us and my lungs tighten from the lack of oxygen. I can’t let myself forget. Not about my parents, or Lawrence, or anything. I can’t let the desire already pooling in my stomach take over.

  Just as I manage to tame my longing, his lips retreat from mine. For a moment I stay, leaning forward, waiting for him to return. Then my eyes flutter open, I look around and I realize it didn’t work. My heart starts to thrum again, but this time not from excitement. We’re still here.

  Damn it.

  Orion grimaces. I’m so close to him that I can see the microspasms the corner of his mouth makes and the way his beautiful, cold blue eyes twitch. “That should’ve worked.” He runs one large hand through his tangled blond hair.

  “We’ll have to try something else,” I say, taking advantage of his momentary distraction to edge toward the nightstand. At first I’m just trying to get away from Orion, but then I see the shabby paperback just lying there, the only possible clue in this antiseptic hellhole.

  Picking it up, I glance at the title: The Tempest. Ironic. Here’s a play about dreams inside of a dream. The edges of the pages ripple underneath my fingertips as I rifle through them. I pause at a random scene in the fifth act and read the first line at the top of the page.

  “‘This thing of darkness I acknowledge as mine,’” I mouth. The line is spoken by the werebeast wizard Prospero.

  “Prospero was a bastard.” Orion’s minty breath ghosts against my neck.

  I flinch as a needle of desire laces through me.

  “A well spoken one, at least,” I mumble distractedly, trying not to let the heady and strange combination of Orion’s closeness overwhelm me. “But what does it mean?”

  “Plumbing the depths of Shakespeare won’t help us. Nor will it help us find your friend.” He plucks the book from my numb, pink hands, but it’s too late.

  I can already feel an answer beginning to assemble itself in my brain. What were Orion’s very first words to me when we met? A quote from The Tempest. ‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on, you and I.’

  And the way he doesn’t look at the room around him. Like he memorized every inch of it long ago.

  “It’s yours,” I whisper.

  “What is?” He closes the paperback with a snap, although his voice is suddenly light. Too light, considering his earlier hurry to rush me out of here.

  “This is your nightmare,” I say.

  Chapter Two

  “Yes,” Orion whispers. Absently, he strokes the spine of the paperback. Something about the motion reminds me of when I sat inside the tent, right before my parents were murdered, touching their shadows, trying to gather them up and keep them safe. Suddenly, some part of me wants to gather him up and keep him safe, too. But I don’t have time to feel bad for him. He’s right. We have to get out of here.

  Cold shoots up through my bare feet as I pad toward the door. It’s too obvious to be the real way out, I know that. But I have to try something. I reach out and grab the knob, but immediately draw back. Jesus. It’s even colder than the floor.

  “The door’s not the way out and you know it.”

  I turn to Orion, who’s leaning against the bedpost. The florescent lights flicker, sending shadows skittering over his sharp cheekbones.

  I shove my hands into my armpits. “Okay, tell me how we get out of here, then.”

  “I have another idea. Come here.” He holds out his arms in what I guess is supposed to be a welcoming gesture. But his muscled body looks about as comfortable and warm as a statue.

  “Why?”

  I glance around at the walls, looking for bloodstains or whip marks or something, anything that would explain why this is the place Orion’s mind returns him to every night. But all I sense is the stinging stench of chemicals burning my nostrils. It kind of smells like my old photography lab from high school, back when we had cameras with black and white film.

  “I’m not going to kiss you, silly girl. Come. Here.” Orion’s voice softens, but underneath runs a strong thread of control, of power. His werecall.

  Beyond my own will, my feet stumble toward him. He catches me in his arms, pressing me to his smooth but surprisingly soft chest. One of his hands falls to the small of my back supportively, while the other rests on my head before beginning to stroke my hair.

  I can’t smell him very well, but I don’t have to. Just being close to him makes my every cell sigh in relief at his touch and whisper, ‘home.’ I thought the desire he could wake in me was dangerous, but this comfort is worse.

  “Orion,” I whisper against his chest. “We’re not going anywhere.”

  With the same gingerness he used with the book, his fingers part and then un-part my curls. “You have to stop fighting the bond, Little Mate, or we never will.”

  “I’m not fighting anything. I’m here, aren’t I?” I nestle myself further into his embrace, even as I close my eyes and steady my breathing to keep myself from being swept away by the slow tide of need seeping through my blood.

  “Something is holding you back. Or the dream would’ve ended a long time ago.” His eyes darken with desire, and his thumb follows the curve of my shoulder down to the top of my breast in a firm stroke.

  My nipples, already stiff from the cold, harden further. I bite my lip to stop it from trembling. “H-how do you know you’re not the one keeping us in the dream? It’s your nightmare.”

  His fingers dip lower until they flirt with the edge of my areola. For a second I wonder why he’s being gentle at all. If it’s just closeness that will end the dream, then why not use his werecall like he did before? The only explanation is that he can’t just eliminate my resistance.

  “I have to give in,” I whisper dumbly, not wanting to believe it, but knowing it’s true. “To you.” Even as the dread in my stomach mounts, so does the ache between my legs. My muscles tense in anticipation of his coming touch.

  He whispers a kiss to my forehead. “Tell me why you’ve been running from me, Artemis. Why you’re resisting. And I can fix it. And then, I think, we will be able to leave.”

  “Fix it?”

  The words press into my heart like the edge of a dull knife and even through the cold anger simmers in my veins.

  Fix it. Like he can just wave his hand and make me not care that my parents are dead. Like I could ever forget about the seven years of loneliness and fear I suffered running from him. From his kind.


  He may not know what he’s saying. He must not know who I really am. But that doesn’t matter. Even if it means being stuck here forever, I can’t tell him. I can’t let him take away my grief about my parents. It’s all I have left of them, and if I lose that, some part of me is sure it will be like they never existed at all. Like they were nothing more than a dream.

  “We’ll wake up eventually, won’t we?”

  “In a couple of hours, and who knows what will have happened to your friend by then.” He presses another kiss to my forehead, but does nothing else.

  He’s letting this be my choice. Or maybe it has to be. Maybe that’s just the way it is. I don’t get the luxury of having him decide for me. My chest squeezes with the force of my decision, and the already cramped room seems to shrink even further.

 
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