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Unleashed by Shadows (By Moonlight Book 10), page 1

 

Unleashed by Shadows (By Moonlight Book 10)
 



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Unleashed by Shadows (By Moonlight Book 10)


  He feared no man, no foe, no obstacle or challenge.

  He’d learned to stand his ground and take it without a wince while growing up with the most to prove in the House of Terriot. He’d been schooled beneath the heavy heel and meaty fists of Bram Terriot, bearing the marks of those lessons scored into his skin and once tender psyche. He understood intimidation better than he did compassion. He’d once indulged in every savagery Lee now expected from him and would have become a brutal, heartless monster walking the same path his father followed had it not been for two things that called to his latent decency: The brothers who’d fearlessly stood beside him and the female brave enough to believe in him.

  He owed them. He owed the woman he loved the fulfillment of promises made by a starry-eyed boy. He owed his family prosperous lives without fear and subjugation, where pride wasn’t measured in cruelties. He owed them a future in which they bowed to no one, and had no reason to expect the worse from one another. To achieve those things, all he had to do was right the wrongs of the man who’d desecrated the crown he now represented.

  All . . .

  Meet Cale Terriot . . . Prince of Shadows

  "Darkness and Danger Never Seemed More Appealing..." ParaNormal Romance Reviews

  "Told in Gideon's unique manner, serving up tortured and spine tingling alpha male, PRINCE OF SHADOWS transcends the paranormal with a gripping love story. Cale and Kendra's mating will be a dance to remember. Another amazing addition to the Moonlight series. 5 Stars!"

  - Readaholics Anonymous

  "Love the intertwining of the supernatural, characters were so memorable, and you simply have to love Cale." - Pick Your Poison Book Reviews

  "He-ll-oo sexy shifter romance - why haven't I met you before?!? Pure unadulterated romance with a sizzling Romeo and Juliet plotline. I mightily enjoyed this book. You don't usually see the hot alpha stud as the more romantic one in a paranormal romance pair. What a smorgasbord of shifter hotness. This story is a winner." - The Urban Book Thief

  Books in the “By Moonlight” Series

  Masked by Moonlight

  Chased by Moonlight

  Captured by Moonlight

  Bound by Moonlight

  Hunter of Shadows

  Seeker of Shadows

  Betrayed by Shadows

  Prince of Shadows

  Remembered by Moonlight

  Coming Soon

  “House of Terriot Foursome”

  Prince of Power

  Prince of Passion

  Prince of Honor

  Prince of Dreams

  For “By Moonlight” mythology and character chart visit:

  http://nancygideon.com/moonlight-step-inside

  By

  Nancy Gideon

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locations is entirely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2015 by Nancy Gideon

  All rights reserved. No part of this book or portions thereof may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission from the author, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.

  Cover Design: Patricia Lazarus

  Interior Design: The Novel Difference

  ASIN: B016FUGSRM

  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

  To those behind the scenes who work so hard to make me look good: Elizabeth Fortin Hinds who has been with me since day one in my Moonlight and Midnight worlds; Alexa Nussio, budding editor who offered fabulous insights and encouragement - Authors are going to love working with you; Sandra Hoover who fine tooth-combed for errors, tamed my wayward commas (I take complete responsibility for any that escaped her!), and as always, is the series’ #1 fan; cover artist Patricia Lazarus for that deft graphic touch that wraps my words in brilliance; and, Florence Price, The Novel Difference, who works tirelessly as my virtual assistant from blog postings to formatting and book trailers so I can sit at the keyboard.

  And to the City of New Orleans for being a source of endless inspiration. One of my favorite places in the world for its depth of history, sultry atmosphere, diverse cultures, music and, OMG, the FOOD! I fall more in love every time I visit. Many thanks to places like the Quarter House, Daisy Dukes, The Hermes Grill, Jackson Square, and the Saint Hotel for giving my characters great places to hang out. To tour guide extraordinaire Carla Boullion for sharing her love of the city’s haunted past (and present!) and stirring the imaginative juices. Laissez les bon temp rouler!

  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

  PROLOGUE

  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 SEVENTEEN

  CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

  CHAPTER NINETEEN

  CHAPTER TWENTY

  CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

  CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

  CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

  CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

  CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

  CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

  CHAPTER THIRTY

  CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

  PROLOGUE

  Exile pierced like a crown of thorns into the troubled brow of a would-be king.

  James Terriot, second of the twelve princes of the House of Terriot, had planned everything perfectly. The clever coup that would supplant his brutal beast of a father, the elimination of those who stood in his way, the subtle tendrils of control now winding into the heart of his enemy’s territory. The only thing he hadn’t anticipated was a meek girl’s metamorphosis into a determined queen at his younger brother’s side.

  Cale, that unpredictable force of change, had stolen his future out from under him. It was hard to hate and admire him at the same time. The little bastard had surprised him, first by winning the delicate prize their father dangled as a stepping stone to becoming his replacement, and second, by not having the decency to die from the stab wounds he, himself, had delivered like a Judas kiss.

  How had the runt of the litter become top dog? James hadn’t seen that transformation coming. He’d never considered Cale as anything but a thuggishly violent mirror of Bram Terriot, someone who could never earn the love and respect of their disgruntled clan with his manic ways. But with the soft and lovely Kendra at his side, he’d matured into something else, something that crushed James’s hopes of becoming king. He’d become an inspiring leader.

  Now, with Cale’s new mate’s dangerously cunning cousin, Silas MacCreedy, in his corner, his half-brother threatened all, forcing James to step up his invasion of New Orleans. If he couldn’t rule from the heights of Lake Tahoe, he could damn well claim this swampland for his kingdom. But first, he had to rid it of his competitors, Memphis clan leader Rueben Guedry and the city’s proclaimed Prophesied One, Max Savoie.

  And it started with the two unlikely cohorts seated at his table. A crime kingpin in the Crescent City and, the ace up his sleeve, its police commissioner.

  CHAPTER ONE

  The well-dressed crowd pushed as close as they dared, high on the adrenalin thrill of raw violence.
Anticipation electrified the air. Even knowing what they were about to see, having experienced the jolt, the shock, the wild intoxication of it during the first two rounds, the concept was still shocking enough to spike feverish excitement. The illegal factor lured some. The chance of watching mortal combat enticed others. But the whisper, just the glimmer of possibility that what they were seeing wasn’t staged, reeled them and their wallets in and held them captive.

  Lights in the dressage ring dimmed, bringing those in the bleachers to their feet so they could see over the mob straining against the fence below. A deafening cry rose from the spectators as spotlights swirled and finally focused upon two massive figures loping out into the center of the ring. Breaths caught in amazement as light glinted off the feral red of their eyes and glittered in the strings of drool threading from ferocious fangs. The hunched shoulders, thick with muscle and matted with bristling hair, the claw-tipped hands curled and ready to shred anything within reach belonged in a Sci-Fi movie or circus sideshow. Monstrous, dangerous animals . . . at first glance. Until astonished eyes traveled down heaving chests to Wrangler jeans and work boots still mudded from the docks.

  Not animals . . . but not men, either.

  Was it just gory theater presented for the exclusive few? The audience didn’t care. The carnage was genuine. The chance to wager and win big very real.

  The pair in the ring paused instead of rushing forward to lock in battle. Waiting. The arena grew quiet as those shaggy heads lifted to test the thick air as if the heavy breeze carried an unsettling message. They began to growl and weave warily, not liking what they scented. Another of their fantastical breed? The viewers strained to see.

  But the figure striding boldly into the ring to meet the two behemoths wasn’t fierce or frightening. The cocky strut, the taunting grin, the sleek gleam of tanned flesh on brawny arms.

  Just a man?

  The beasts drew back in confusion, looking toward handlers who stood in the shadows, not sure what to do when confronted with such a vulnerable opponent. But the slight figure showed no hesitation, thrusting fists high as the first hard rocking chords of AC/DC’s “Fire Your Guns” shattered the humid air.

  Chanting started small and built like a squall out on the Gulf, rolling in louder, stronger.

  “Gunslinger! Gunslinger!”

  The fighter responded to their cries with a sudden echoing roar. His hands gripped the front of his tee shirt, and as his head fell back, he was lost within a flash of dazzling light. Blinking eyes adjusted then grew wide. A creature cloaked in thick red-gold hair stood in the small human’s place, its lupine features lifting in a savage howl.

  Same clothing. Same black armband. Same widely planted stance. As if he’d transformed from man to beast right in front of them!

  Right. Before. Their. Eyes.

  And the audience went wild.

  *

  “Oh, hell. This night’s gone straight to shit.”

  It took Cale Terriot a ridiculous amount of energy to turn away from his beer to see what his distant cousin was grumbling about, particularly since Silas MacCreedy seemed to take exception to just about everything outside his own straight-laced views. That included rowdy bars, dancing, showing off, bad behavior, and mixing it up, all of Cale’s favorite pastimes. He didn’t care what was bothering Saint Silas as long as it didn’t involve him having to do anything about it.

  Other than finishing his drink in the noisy dance club Crave, being seen where he needed to be seen, and then crawling back to the borrowed place he couldn’t really call home to lick his wounds, he’d done all he planned to do for one painfully long evening in the name of their testy relationship. Tomorrow was soon enough to deal with the fact that he may have just screwed everything up with his swaggering over-confidence.

  He could tell himself it wasn’t really his problem. These weren’t his people, their troubles not his own—at least not yet. He had no business scrapping his way up in unnatural underground fights, risking his life unnecessarily every time he strode out into that blood-soaked arena.

  And no business enjoying the savage rush that surged with chants of his name.

  Gunslinger! Gunslinger!

  That’s not what he was inside. Not anymore.

  The longer he stayed, the deeper he let his cousin push him into that persona, the harder it became to remind himself he was not the role he played for high stakes in the smelly sweatbox of New Orleans as Mick Terry, brawler, dock worker, performing shape-shifter for hire.

  But a debt was a debt. And in calling him on it, Silas MacCreedy had him by the balls in a relentless grip, and if he didn’t break free here, now, he never would.

  Sighing reluctantly, Cale twisted to follow Silas’s glare. The scream of protest from abused ribs and shoulders fell away the second a distinctive scent teased up his nose. He straightened, senses quivering, intent gaze scanning the far side of the room to fix on the newcomers who had MacCreedy’s panties in a wad.

  With long, aggressive strides, three tall strangers parted the packed club crowd the way they’d plow through enemies in battle, without hesitation or regard. Danger rolled off them like cold fog from the Mississippi after dark. From their harshly handsome looks, territorial red-blond hair, and the brilliance of hefty diamonds flashing in their ears, any Shifter with a sliver of knowledge about their kind knew exactly who they were.

  Trouble in tight black leather motorcycle gear.

  “What are they doing here?” Silas demanded.

  “I don’t know.” Wondering the same spiked his alarm.

  “If they mess this up for us—”

  “Don’t worry,” Cale cut in, promising, “I’ll handle it.”

  “Don’t draw any attention.” MacCreedy looked uneasily toward the bar where a white-blond man lounged unaware of the intruders. For the moment. “And don’t start anything! Just get them out of here.”

  “Soul of discretion.”

  He ignored Silas’s doubting scowl and started across the packed dancefloor, keeping an eye on the reddish blond heads bobbing above the crowd. Subconsciously, his step kicked up a notch to match the addictive techno beat of “Let It Rock”.

  Don’t draw any attention. What was he? Twelve years old again?

  He’d almost reached the edge of the pulsing floor when sinewy arms snaked about his neck and a lush body pressed close to begin an enthusiastic grind. He tried to politely extricate himself but the club girl clung tight, positioning herself between him and where he needed to go. His preoccupied gaze never strayed to hers.

  They spotted him, all stopping at once.

  Don’t start anything!

  A slow smile curved his lips. Subtlety wasn’t in his vocabulary.

  After a few quick twirls, Cale spun his partner out and purposefully let go, forgetting her, his attention on the trio watching from the edge of the crowded floor. He moved solo to the intoxicating beat, flashy steps starting to draw notice in an expanding outward ripple. But his focus never left the stoic threesome until finally he sent a quick punch of movement toward the tallest of the group. His fingers curled rapidly. Beckoning.

  The taunting dance challenge provoked a slow smile. Cale was joined on the floor, his movements shadowed with sleek precision through the next verse of the song, then both motioned to the oldest of the three while the youngest simply stared, jaw hanging.

  The novelty of three fiercely gorgeous men stepping and swiveling in sync had the crowd circling to enjoy a performance that was part energetic boy band, part sizzling Magic Mike. They hadn’t practiced that shoulder-shaking, pelvis-rocking routine in over ten years, but their audience forgave the occasional misstep in favor of some serious eye candy. Colin, controlled, chiseled and powerful; Rico, a graphically enticing tease; and Cale, full of strong athletic grace. Three of the Twelve of the House of Terriot, princes used to commanding attention and holding it tightly in their magnetic grip.

  As the onlookers cheered and the females waved cash, only one thing
could have made the moment more perfect for the Terriots’s heartsick and lonesome new king. Until he turned to find the most beautiful vision possible blocking his path.

  Cale froze. The noise, the music, the dance all fell away.

  Black leather and spandex hugged her petite form, the contrast making winter-pale skin almost translucent, her dark eyes huge, and short bobbed hair fair as cornsilk. He wasn’t sure which distracted him first, the fiery heat of the diamond in one ear catching the strobing lights above or the slow part of her red-slicked lips as she whispered, “For the dance.”

  He didn’t understand until he felt the warmth of her fingers brushing his abdomen as she pulled the front of his jeans away to tuck in several bills.

  “A deposit,” she crooned, patting his crotch.

  His grin broke wide.

  Planting his palm firmly on her taut rump, he snatched her up close, letting her ride his suggestive moves as his brothers separated to do the same with eager partners. He forgot all about them as her body fit to his, and her breath stroked over the thundering pulse at his throat. All that had careened dangerously out of balance inside him for the past weeks steadied, until the music stopped and he was forced back into the reality of the moment.

  What the hell was she doing in New Orleans?

  She couldn’t be here with him.

  Arm curled tightly about her waist in spite of that hard truth, Cale rejoined the trio to demand, “What were you thinking, bringing her here?”

  “We didn’t bring her,” Rico clarified. “She brought us. It was go along for the ride, or let her come by herself. And we knew you’d hate that.” He smirked at his play on words. “Besides, why should you have all the fun when we’ve never been to New Orleans to let the good times roll.” He punctuated that with a revolution of lean hips.

  Cale nodded at the moto gear, scowling. “You biked all the way?”

 
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