Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Washington Irving said, “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love.”

I think we could all shed a few more tears and the whole would be come a better place.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Oh, for shame! Just look at those fingernails! My, I'll bet you monsters lead in-teresting lives. I said to my girl friend just the other day, 'Gee, I'll bet monsters are in-teresting.' I said. The places you must go and the things you must see -- my stars! I bet you meet lots of in-teresting people too. I'm always in-terested in meeting in-teresting people.

Monday, November 8, 2010

second entry for the beast within

“You are all crazy.” she looked around the parking lot. “This place is getting busy.”
“They might be missing us.”  He stepped closer to her.
“What are you doing?”
“Smelling you.”  He answered truthfully.  “I like how you smell.”
“And how do I smell?”  Amusement colored her scent and voice.
“Like warm chocolate.”
“What?” she asked as he stepped to within centimeters of her.  His large lean body almost brushed hers.  She never back down from anyone, but this time her instinct was to run and never look back.
“I think I could become addicted to chocolate.”
“This is not a good idea-“
“No, this is a great idea.”  He concluded as his lips captured her. 
He did not ask permission to sample her lips.  He lapped at them until, she open hungrily for him.  The world became centered, just his lips on hers.  The feel of them taking, searching.  She felt his claw slip lose as he used it the free her hair.  One hand fisted in it as the other held her neck to ease his plundering.
She had known his touch would consume her.  She finally felt relaxed yet excited in her skin.  Just like the moment right before a kill.  She felt no need to run, no desire to hunt.  This was where she wanted to be.
She could smell his arousal and feel his heat.  And she welcomed it, stepping closer to bask in both.  His lips were warm and mobile as his tongue map the recesses of her mouth.
And without thought she allowed her passion free rein.  Her lips and teeth and tongue battled with his.  While both became more aggressive, fighting to control the passion between them.
Her hand tugged on his butterscotch hair.  It was as warm and soft as she had thought it would be.  She was sure his fur would be just as wonderful.
His large hand spanned the back of her waist as her pulled her snug against his arousal.  She shivered at those long fingers touching her bare skin.  She could not wait to feel them touch every part of her.
At the sound of the crunch of gravel, his head shot up.  Mara slipped from his grasp and disappeared into the shadows.  He tried to find her as her as he searched for source of the noise.
“Don’t sneak up on me, pup, you are not very good at it.”  Mara grouched as the young male was dropped at Vincenc’s feet.  She eyed him angrily and stomped into Gregorio’s.
“Wow, Vincenc.  She was on me so fast I never knew what hit me.”
“Anything broken?”  He asked of the pup that had destroyed his evening.  One look at Mara and he knew she was not going to let him near her soon.
“No, she just picked me up and tossed me at your feet.” 
While still young the male was almost 6 feet of gangly limbs.   Mara had hauled him by his belt as if he was a feather. There was more than just beauty to this female.
“The gravel.”
“I know, but I wanted to see her.”   He grinned unrepentantly.
“Well, you got to see her up close.”
“Not as close as you did.”
Vincenc sighed in memory.  She had been fabulous up close and personal.  At the fire that had burnt between them he would have thought she was his mate. He had searched for the scent that called to him.  But the scent of his mate was not there.  She was not his.  And just the thought of another having her filled him will uncontrolled anger.
He would have her now and he would not share her.

Mara grumbled all the way into the bar.   How had she let herself be so distracted?  If their uninvited guest had been anyone other than a young pup they both could have been dead.  And they had not been alone in the area.
Why had she allowed him to touch her? She would forever remember the feel of his lips on her.  Taking and commanding a response.  She shivered and controlled herself.  She would not get both of them killed.
She was here for one night and then she would finish the job she was sent to do.  She would fulfill her promise to the matriarch and leave.  Resolved she grabbed her tray and went to work.
Vincenc stood at the bar and barely refrained from growling.  Mara worked with speed and efficiency.  She spoke to everyone and made eye contact with none.  She brushed off all personal comments and had more than one customer laughing heartily as she walked away.
But none touched her.  He was not sure if it was because they had heard what she done to the wolf.  Or that his scent still clung to her. 
His beast rumbled it was his scent but another part had watched as the males stirred cautiously around her.  She moved in a way that belayed her scent.  She was a commanding predator in a room filled with predators. 
They were more afraid of her than him at the moment.  He almost laughed at that.  If she had smelled of his mate he would have marked her and none would dare step between them.  But she did not carry his mark.  And now all in the bar knew it.
“How is it going?”  He raised a brow as she stepped to the bar.
“Fine. Three beers,” she turned to the kitchen “three steaks, rare.”  And then stepped away without a smile.
She had not spoken to him since their kiss.  No matter how he had tried to engage her.  She had dismissed him.
Mara avoided the temptation that the male at the bar presented.  She knew he watched her and she felt his possessiveness tugging at her.  His beast was confused. And she could not tell him the source.
Mara eyed the clock, still hours to go before she could leave.  She smiled at the warlock as she placed his drink in front of him. He smiled in return and magic whiffed around him.
“Put that away before I pull it out of you and strangle you with it.”  She whispered in his ear. None in the place needed to hear this conversation.
“You think you have the power to do that.”
“Warlock, either I spill your blood here or in the parking lot.”  She stepped out of his personal space and waited.
“Follow me.”  He stated arrogantly laying money on the table. 
He rose gracefully and head towards the door.  He paused and raised an eye brow as she finish delivering her last two drinks.  He smiled to the other waitress and continued out the door.
Mara stomped pasted the bar.  “I’m on break.”
Vincenc brow rose but he did not follow her.  His mother was tending bar with him.  But he would not leave her alone in the crowded place.  He tracked Mara’s scent as she stomped into the parking lot.  She went no farther.
He breathed a sigh as he continued to serve the drinks.  Gregorio only served drinks compactable with humans.  There was never a need to watch the type of being drinking and speculate if a customer would lose control in front of a human.
Gregorio’s was a place for the other species to interact comfortable with one and other, unlike some of the club where no humans were allowed.  Things were changing in their world.  He had heard that the Demon, Lycanthrope and Vampire kingdoms had united.  But it still had not affected them here, other than to make him more cautious.
He sniffed the air again.  Mara was still close.  There was very little magic in the place tonight. The lone warlock had left already.
 “No vampires tonight?”   Zephyr asked as he slid into his seat as the bar.
“No so far.”  Vincenc returned unconcerned.
“Full house.” 
The demon was wearing some glamour to hide his horns from a human accidentally seeing them.  The dark haired demon was always good about obey the rules.  And tonight he appeared to be in the mood for some conversion.
“Mostly the ususal crowd.”  He leaned on the bar and wiped it clean again.
“So, that an eagle with those lions?”
“First time he has been in.”
“Hear there was a problem with the wolves earlier.”
“The waitress handled them all by herself.”
“That was what I heard.”
“From where?”
“From the wolves.  They are jonesing after the pretty thing.”
“They will keep their paws to themselves.”  Vincenc barely kept a handle on his temper.  His fang flashed as he spoke.
Tarben the bear slide into the spot next to Zephyr, “I did not see a mark on the little thing.”
“You plan on drinking.  Or do I need to take you out back?”
“I have no plans the tangle with you.  I just needed to make sure there is no mark.”  He snickered.
“You mess with her and you will be sorry.”
“But it will be worth it.  That is what the wolf said.”  He turned and headed to his seat.
Vincenc struggled to control a possessiveness he had no right to.  He had been close enough to know if she was his mate.  But she had not smelt right.  However he was not about to share her with the lot of them.

Mara sidled across the parking lot.  The warlock stood arrogantly.  He had no idea what awaited him.  He had already blocked his scent from those in the bar. 
“Your time is up.” Mara said as she threw the warlock to the ground.
His magic sparked yet made not contact.  She quickly overpowered the frightened warlock and pulled him into cypress trees.
“Who are you?”  He demanded.
“What did you think you were going to do?  Did you think you could control me?”  She hissed.
“How did you know?”  He whispered the smell of his fear overwhelming her.
 “It would take someone much more powerful than you to control me.” Rage filled the air.  “I will send you back to him in piece.”
“Xiomara.”  He whispered horrified.
“Never speak that name.”  She stabbed the warlock in the heart with a blade stolen from the kitchen, and pulled the knife and his heart from his chest. 
As she knelt in the grove of cypress tree she waited.  The warlock had been after someone.  Someone here was a target. She drew the symbol on his stomach.
“Reveal, and return to him that controls you.”  She commanded the magic in him.  His last breath would tell her who the warlock was after.  Tarben, the bear’s name, appeared and the warlock returned to his master.
Mara shook as she looked at the blood on her clothes. Magic coated her.  The smell of the warlock she had defeated covered her.  She breathed in and his power slid over her skin. She trembled.  Garvan would know his warlock was dead.  But not who had stolen his power.
She wiped her hands over the blood, absorbing it and the power within.  She did not waste the precious power to remove his scent.  Soon it would not matter.  In fact his scent would hide her from Ranulf.   She smiled at the thought.
Garvan thought she would not use all those around him against him.  He thought she was weak.  Soon he would know how wrong he was.
Into the light of the parking lot she returned.  She had to find her target and bring in the bear. Tonight.
“Mara, what are you doing?”  Vincenc asked
She had felt the itch grow on her skin and known he was near.  She did not like her reaction to him. She shrugged her shoulder and continued toward the back door.  Vincenc’s nostrils fared as he smelt a warlock. 
She felt him move just as he grasped her arm and swung her around.   She knocked his hand from her and leapt away.  She landed automatically in a defensive crouch.
“Do not mess with me.”  She rumbled.
He could feel the beast within her struggling to be free.  She was so close to turning Vincenc’s great cat snarl to be free also. He was sure he did not want an untried shifter changing in the parking lot.  No matter how bad his beast wanted her to be free.
“Easy sweet-” he stopped as she growled, “easy Mara.  Why don’t we calm down and take a walk by the water?”
She hissed at him, her dark eye narrow and anger filled. If she released the beast within he was afraid he would have to injure her to control her.  One moment he heard her dark rumble and the next she sprinted into the trees.
Ranulf.  He was near.  That meant their prey was near.  She breathed deeply they were in pursuit.  The prey had escaped four wolves.  Ranulf was getting sloppier and sloppier.
He was a worthless peace of fur.  And one day he would pay.
Mara could not believe Vincenc continued to silently follow her through the trees.  Why had she met him now?  She was too close to her goal.  She would not let him distract her.  Eye on the prize.
Vincenc chased the now silence female.  She was a beautiful sight.  Her long bare legs and feet quickly covered the ground. He chased her for more than an hour.  He could not believe the speed and stamina she had.  One minute she was on the ground and the next she was in a tree.
“You make me loose him and I’ll remove a favorite part of your anatomy.”  She hissed and stretched across a branch.
Vincenc settled into another tree and waited silently.  Who was she stalking?
He did not have to wait long.  He hear them coming.  A single male vampire was being hunted by four wolves.  He saw a momentary flash of white as Mara smiled. It was the only move she made.
The vampire ran right under Mara’s tree. The stake in his heart prevented him from dematerializing away.  She never moved until two of the wolves pasted under her.  Then she attacked.
One wolf had a chopping blade, one Vincenc was sure had been in Gregorio kitchen, through his skull.  Now he lay on the ground screaming in pain. 
Vincenc leaped from his tree landing on the two wolves that had turned on Mara.  His claws pierced ones ribs as he began to release his wolf.  Vincenc barely restrained his beast as he heard Mara growl.
“That’s for the ribs.”
She back handed the second wolf. He went flying into a tree branch and she attacked him. She reached into his stomach and pulled out his intestines out.  And then she stalked towards were Vincenc was fighting the last wolf standing.
“Had to call in help little girl?” Ranulf snickered.
“No needed.” She laughed wickedly, “I just like to watch you have your tail handed to you by anyone.”
“Mara, get out of here.”  Vincenc commanded.  “They are not dead.”
Ranulf laughed and Vincenc smashed the wolf’s face.  The jaguar was amazing to watch in battle.  While Ranulf was not the brightest bulb in the pack, he was the strongest.  He was a vicious and deadly killer and Vincenc was controlling him with little problem.  Too bad she could not stay to watch Vincenc finish him off.
“You cheating little whore.”  The wolf shouted as she turned to run.
“Four on one.   And I cheat.”  Her laughter filled the grove of trees.
She breathed deeply and filled her lungs with the scent of the vampire’s blood.  He did not even know enough to not leave a trail behind him.
Mara quickly hunted the vampire.  Unable to dematerialize he had not been able to outrun her. While she preferred to wait for the prey to come to her, this time she chased him.  Ranulf and his goons already had him on the run.
Mara attacked the vampire.  Laying open his flesh, the smell of vampire blood covered the area they fought in.  Ranulf would not hold against Vincenc long.  Alone without a pack the wolf would quickly concede.  She needed this vampire restrained.
Within minutes enough of the vampire’s blood was on the ground.  He was too weak to fight.  Without blood he was trapped.  “Conceded.”
“Never, will I concede to Garvan’s minions!”  He spat.
Mara stomped on his face.  And the vampire slid into oblivion.  Mara sniffed the air.  The warlock’s blood hid her scent.  No one would see her here. 
She used magic to wipe the blood from the vampire and seal his wounds.  She tossed the vampire over her shoulder and began to run.  Soon she found an abandoned shed and placed the vampire inside.  One repulsing ward and she took off running.
If anyone found him they would smell the warlock she had sent to Garvan but not Mara.  Ranulf would not be looking for the warlock.  As she neared Gregorio’s she brushed the scent of all the other away from her skin.  The warlock had indeed proven useful this day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Beast Within

Xiomara spit blood on the ground as she came to a grinding halt. She rolled to her feet and shifted into a crouch all in one movement.  Her tangled black hair swung around her.
 Ranulf had laughed as he tossed her, naked, from the still moving van.  He intended to disgrace her as she had done him, yet again. She sent the cretin a one finger salute as the van raced out of the upscale neighborhood.
Her long black hair covered most of her body as she crouched near a bush.  She looked around and raced between the houses.  It was early morning in the spring.  She should not see too many children.  But housekeeping and gardening staff would soon arrive.
She needed to get out of sight and find some clothes.
Half an hour later she neared the tree line.  A clothes line?  She turned and backtracked.  A small rundown cabin, she laughed.  It was the last hold out to the American housing market.
She grabbed a pair of jeans and a white tee shirt.  Then she looked around the yard.  Here there might be something she could use.  She pulled on the shirt.  It covered just a bit more than her hair.  The jeans were another matter.  Too short and too big, she would have to make them work.
She head back into the neighborhood. She collected a pair of scissors left on a patio table. And a twenty from a bulging wallet left lying on a poolside chair.  Then she discovered a pair of flip flops abandoned beside a swing set. And thankfully they fit.
She headed into the trees with her supplies.  Ranulf thought he could slow her down.  He thought he would win.  He was wrong.  She would make him pay.
She cut the legs off the jeans.  And quickly cut one leg into thin rope.  She cut three pieces and braided them into a belt.  She pulled on the short jeans and belt. The other leg she turned into a bag.  Cutting and tying the bottom, then adding another braided for a strap.
She pulled off the tee shirt, a couple of quick cuts and ties later and she was done.  She pulled the shirt back on. She placed the money, scissors, and left over denim rope in the bag. 
She smiled her dark eyes flashing as she slipped the flip-flops in to the bag.  Time to work.  She took off running in the woods.  She knew Ranulf, the inept cur, would not place her near her target.

Victor looked around his brother’s bar and grill.  Gregorio and his bride, Catalina, had just left for their honeymoon.  He would be watching the place until their return. They deserved this time away.  He would not begrudge them.  Even though Gregorio was his baby brother and now he was the only member of his family without a mate.  His mother would have all her focus on correcting that abnormality.
He smiled as he wiped the bar top.  The lunch crowd was still small. Fiontan was working the grill in the back.  He loved when humans came in to eat; most of the shifters in the place preferred their meat rare. The fire demon loved the smell of roasting flesh.  
Berdine, the waitress, was working the crowd easily.  Her French accent lilting as she teased her way around the room.  Her brown hair was piled on top her head in a sloppy topknot; she was always struggling to contain it.  The non humans in the club knew how hard that was for the slim bear.
Gregorio believed in giving everyone a fair shot.  He even had a couple of humans on staff.  His brother was much more tolerant than he was.  But working the bar would give him a place to hide from his mother until Gregorio returned or one of his other brothers announced the arrival of their cubs.  They had decided withhold that  information from their mother until after Gregorio celebration was over. 
Victor had smelt the change on the females immediately. 
“Victor, when are you going to allow me to be a grandmother?”  Esparenza asked.
He sighed.  “Why are you not with Imelda?”
She sniffed in return, taking a sat at the bar, “Ramon had me removed this morning.”
Victor closed his eyes and cursed under his breath.
“I can still hear you.”
“Well, don’t listen.”  He ordered as he walked away.
She continued to sit at the end of the bar. The blond hair female was attracting more than one male’s eyes.  If she would just release his father’s memory, Esparenza would have a number of companions to keep her busy and out of his life. 
It was time. There had to be a male worthy of his mother’s time and attention.
Victor felt the female enter the bar and automatically turned to assess the species and therefore the dangers of the new customer.
He had never smelt one like her before. She was a curvaceous beauty with waist length midnight black hair tied at her nape. Low slung cutoff left miles of dusky lean legs exposed. A strategically cut tee shirt hugged her full breast, baring a taunt tan stomach and flaring hips. She had some kind of barely there foot ware.  More was exposed than covered by her outfit.
His body reacted instantly to the heat she produced.  Living in a world of shifters he had been raised to think nothing of the nudity of another.  And to not react to the nudity of a female was ingrained.  Yet as this female entered the bar he had to shift to remove his discomfort.
His mother noticed as the female caught his attention.  That would not do at all.  Her warm brown eyes were speculative as she watched the female approach the bar.
The female sat at the bar placing herself in Victor’s favorite place.  Her back was naturally to the wall and all those in the bar were in plain sight.  She had chosen the best place for a female traveling alone. She knew not to expose herself.
He approached unhurried.  Esperanza was watching.
“What can I get you?”
“A sprite and a burger, med please.”  A small smile accompanied a whisper soft voice.  Her dark eye never rest for more than a moment as she observed the others in Gregorio’s.
Victor stepped away to place her order and not give his mother any more to speculate about.  He had not even taken the deep breath he had wanted to in her presence.  He still could not tell her species.  Not human, but clouded. 
Feline, maybe, she had to be an immature one who had never experienced the change. That placed her completely out of the area where he would spend his time getting to know her.  He was no cradle robber.  He had jeans older than her.  He shook his head and took the burger and drink to her. 
“I have never seen you here before.” 
“Just passing through.”  She never met his eyes and quickly inhaled the sandwich.
The female ate like she had not seen food in a while and did not know when she would see it again. He tilled his head as he viewed the puzzle before him.  She did not smell human.  But she did not eat alike a shifter. No one worth their salt let a fire demon do more than touch their meat.
He stepped to the other end of the bar to pass a beer to the bear that walked up. The one who not half an hour ago had been targeting Berdine.  The dark male was indeed trying to make the rounds.  She had attracted more attention than just his own.
Mara swallowed the bite she had been chewing. She could not believe how good the meal had tasted. The fire demon she smelt in the back had done a wonderful job.  The humans in the place attested to that.
She noted the massive dark bear that had moved to the bar.  He was eyeing her luviously.  The other patrons of this mixed specie establishment were more speculative.  The bear was easy to read.  He was hunting a female.
The bear picked up his beer and slid closer to her. “Can I buy you a drink?”
“I don’t think that would be a good idea.”  Mara worked to hide her accent.
He leaned in closer even through he had no cause to do so to hear her words.  The bear was going to be a problem.  “I could buy you lunch then.”
She smiled softly.  It was too soon for them to know she was in the area.  She had only stopped to eat and relax for a couple of minutes.  This bear and his death would draw too much attention, she thought angrily.  “No thanks.”
“How about you join us for some fun?”
She looked at the bear and then his friends and smiled wickedly.  “I don’t think you could handle me.”
The three bears from the table saunter over.  She eyed each one, young, cocky and full of themselves.  Time to defuse this now.  She turned to them and cross one long leg over the other.
“Boys, I don’t have time for all of you.  But if you want to fight over me and then see if you can catch me afterwards, I might think about it.”
“Now come on!”  The fair haired bear grouched.
They all knew if she got a head start they would have to spend the day hunting her.  They did not know that if she got a head start they would never see her again.  Not until she killed them.
“Or we could play a hand of black jack.  If one of you can come up with some cards.” One dark brow rose over a sparkling brown eye.
“Black jack?”
“What do you have to play with?”
“Well, after I pay for lunch, about 10 dollars.  But I have something you want more.”
“Black jack!” they cheered.
They all slid to the table as she paid for her lunch. She nodded to the male behind the bar.  He was beautiful.  Something she had not appreciated as she struggled to control her hunger.  With her stomach full another hunger was sweeping though her.
He had hair the color of warm butterscotch, perfect to drive into. He was feline, 6’3”, lean with whip chord muscle.  She just bet he was beautiful as he ran.  He smelt of warmth and sunlight and wonderful male. And his warm brown eyes had noted and dismissed her.   His mistake.
Victor watched as she picked up the money from the bar and saunter to the table.  She kicked a chair into the spot she wanted and straddled the chair.  He tilled his head intrigued despite his hand off policy of avoiding young females.  He had lived to many centuries to change now.
“Let’s see those cards.” She demanded her long limbs wrapped around the back of the chair she straddled.
“What?”  Beringar pulled a deck from his pocket.
“Give me.”  A dark brow rose as she waited. 
“Are you accusing us of cheating?”  The bear growled.
“I am not prey.”  She snapped her fingers.  “Bartender, you got a new deck back there?”
The bears snickered.  They knew who was tending the bar, who the female had insulted.  The head of the North American jaguar clan strolled to the table with a new deck of cards.  Victor smiled as he watched the bears. The female was not intimidated. 
She barely acknowledged him as she handed him the bear’s cards.  He felt the faint hum of magic as she took his deck. She had picked up the magic before she touched the cards.  The female had been exposed to magic.  Maybe she was a witch. 
Many witches hide who they were in a club filled with shifters.  Magickind were some of the physically weakest beings.  Definitely a disadvantage when they traveled alone.
“Do you want to check the deck?”  They all mumbled in the negative as she pulled the clean new deck out.  “You may deal.” she handed the cards to one of the bears.
“Can we know who we play with?”
“Mara.  And you are?”  She never took her eyes from the cards
“Arturo.”  He shuffled easily and pointed to his left. “Beringar and that is Tarben.”
“I’m Ursus.”  The dark bear from the bar said.
“Deal, before you wear the color off those cards.”
Tarben laughed as the first of the cards hit the table. 
“Lunch is on the house.”  Victor said as he slid her money back to her.
She never acknowledged him nor touched the money.   An hour later she had cleaned all four male’s pockets, yet still they watched her stand and stretch appreciatively.  She slid some of the money in her pocket and some in the bag she carried.
“You have to give us the chance to win our money back.”  Tarben wheedled.
“Arturo, don’t play with these guys anymore.  They are just fleecing you.”  She turned to the bar and laid the ten back on the counter.  “Thanks, but I pay my own way.”
“And where would that take you?”  Victor wondered.
“To many ferocious and diverse places.” Mara stepped away from the bar.  She had the money she needed for the night.  Plenty, she could buy food and maybe some clothes and if she was very careful a bed.
“Young lady, where are you going?”
This was the first time the matriarch had address her.  She had known the lady jaguar was present but had avoided her.  Now she approached softly.  Mara bowed her head and stepped backwards away from her.  Difference and respect in every move she made.  She had hoped the matriarch would not acknowledge a lone female.
“I must go.” She never met her eyes.
“Where?”  The question stopped her short.
“I don’t know.”  The truth hung in the air.
“Then stay here.”
“I cannot.”  Truth again. She could not stay and continue to hustle the customers. Once in the bar was enough.
“Victor, do you not need an extra waitress until Catalina returns?”  Her tone stating the decision was made.
“You know we are short one.”  He never looked at her.
She knew every male that was watching her move. These past months she had grown more and more uncomfortable in her own skin.  She needed to move, to run, and to hunt.
“I could not.”  Mara began backing away.  She would never turn her back on another female.
“Mara, would you please help me by working at Gregorio’s?”   Mara bowed her head and turned towards the door to run. “I would consider it a personal favor.”
“Yes, Matriarch.”  She whispered, feeling trapped.
“Good.  Son, find this young lady an apron to wear and she can work this afternoon.”  The Matriarch stepped behind the bar 
“Yes, Esparenza.”  He nodded to his mother.

Victor slowly walked from behind the bar.  His mother had hired the female and as such he could not fire her.  He led the way into a back storage room.  He needed to get rid of this female now.
“You do not have to stay and work here.”   Victor said as she stepped into the room.
“I told the matriarch I would do it and I will.”  She hissed her brown eye now cold and flinty.
“I just thought you did not want to be here.”
“I do not do what I don’t want.”
He handed her an apron with Gregorio’s logo on it.  She hissed at him and started to turn away. As his hand would have touched the bare skin on her arm she leapt to the side.
He lowered his hand.  The female was quick to be agitated.  He did not need this in his life.  He stayed still as she calmed and a reserve slid over her beautiful face.
He stood admiring her as she backed away from him.  She had beautiful skin the color of milk chocolate.  Just the thought of which was enough for him to want to lick her all over and see if she tasted as good as she looked.  Her cheek bones were high and hinted of an ancient American heritage. Long straight locks of black hair hang down her back.  And he wondered how those locks would feel wrapped around his fist as he feasted from her mouth.
This female was even more dangerous then he had thought.  He would need to avoid her and the machination of his mother until she left.  
Mara backed away from the heat in the male before her.  She had no time for this.  She would do as the Matriarch asked.  Then she would run at the first opportunity.  Ranulf was most likely hunting their prey even as she stood here.
This delay could cost her more than she was willing to pay.  And for a male who was fighting his interest in her.
Ranulf stocked about the shambles of the empty offices.  Every piece of furniture had been attacked.  Leather torn from the couch floated in the air with circuits from the pair of destroyed computers.  Claw marks covered the desk and paneled walls. 
The realization that their prey had escaped them infuriated him.
In fact he had not been in this location in quite some time.  The scent was cold now. His informant was wrong. 
“Find the jackal and skin him.”  He kicked a chair across the room embedding it in the wall. “I want to know where he went to.”
Four wolf trackers stormed out of the office.  They would find him.  He would not be able to hide from them.

Mara strolled down the hall and out into the parking lot behind the bar.  She should never have stopped here.  Now she was trapped by her word to the Matriarch. And as if her grouchy thoughts had called to her the Matriarch appeared.
“So Mara.”  She smiled as the females chin dropped. “What interest has you in my son?”
“Your son?”
“Yes the bartender.” 
She smiled.  But Mara was not fool. The males rules by their strength, but they all bowed before a Matriarch.  She ruled her family by her wits.
“I have no interest other than he is a beautiful specimen.”
“Beautiful specimen.”  She chortled, “If only his brothers could hear that.”
Dark brows rose.  “He is not beautiful?”
“He has always been beautiful to me.  But too few others.”
“Are you warning me away?  Or drawing my curiosity?”
“It is time my son had a mate-“
“Warning me away!”  She exclaimed turning to run.
“Mara, you promised.”
Her head crashed to her chest as the matriarch’s soft voice reached her at the tree line.  Two more seconds and she would have been out of her reach.  She stalked back and picked up the apron.
“Tonight only.  No more!”  She growled.
Esparenza watch the young female storm into the bar and grill  with a smile on her lips.  If her son needed more than one night to claim his mate she would eat her hat.

Victor watched as Berdine walked Mara through a few orders.  The waitress explained all she would be expected to do that night.  Mara preformed all that was asked of her but not happily.
“I never thought I would see that scowl leave her face.”  Berdine said an hour later.
“What?”  Victor asked, as he pasted the beers over the counter.
Berdine nodded to the far side of the room where three wolves were eyeing the new waitress.  The apron tied low on her hips drew their attention to her flat stomach that was now dancing as she struggled to hold in her laughter.  She was a beautiful sight with her dark eye flashing and her lips quirking.
Jaguars on the other side of the bar slid to the tables away from the anger that momentarily filled Victor’s face.  He could not believe the possessiveness that filled him at their attention.  And at her response to them, she had never smiled at him.  Yet she was almost laughing at the wolves.
“Son, you are frightening all the customers.  If you continue this way, Gregorio’s will close and your brother and his new bride will move in with you.”
“And why not you?” he glowered.
“Because, I am not glaring daggers at them.”  She smiled and shook her head.  “She is quite beautiful.”
“She is young, and works here.”
“Is that the reason you are trying to keep them away for her?”  She nodded to the customers ogling the new waitress.
“She should not have to deal with having them paw her.”  He filled another glass while trying not to keep one eye on Mara.  One young girl should not cause this much chaos inside him.
“She is no one’s mate.  There is no one to protect her-“
Suddenly a body slammed to the floor.  And laughter from the front of the bar captured everyone’s attention.
“You want to regrow that paw.”  Mara growled.
“Now sweet cheeks…”
She leaned down giving everyone in the place a view of the sweet curves exposed by the short denim. She flipped the wolf on his back and raised his arm to an uncomfortable angle.  She crouched over him angry.
“Sweet, this would be so much more fun if you would just flip me back.”  He nodded to where her lags straddled his shoulders.
“Can a wolf think with nothing except his-“
“Mara, do you need help.”  Victor asked as he stepped to her side.  He had launched himself across the bar so fast. Those around drew in startled breathes.
She squeezed the wolf’s wrist until she heard a bone crush. “No, we have an understanding.  Don’t we?”
“Sure, sweet thing,” he said eyeing her over his shoulder. “It was worth it.”
She leaned down, then said with a whisper and a smile. “Next time I will cut something off you will miss as it regrows.”
The other wolves laughed as they helping their friend scrabbled from under the dark female. Meanwhile Victor pulled her angry form away.  She was ready to attack them and he was most sure Gregorio would disapprove.
“The waitresses are not here for you to paw.”
“Come on.”  They whined.
“Next time I’ll let her carry through her threat.”  He returned placing his hands on Mara’s shoulders and guiding her away from the wolves, and out the back door. “Never worked in the public?”    
“He is likely all I broke was his wrist.”  She snapped stepping away from the warm male.  “I told her this was not a good idea.”
“Well, you don’t have to worry none of the others will touch you,”
“Why, because you say so?”
“No, because to have that part of your anatomy remove while you have an erection can cause serious blood lose.”
Mara’s stance relaxed and one corner of her mouth rose.  But it was her taunt stomach that caught his attention. It rolled and wiggled as she controlled her laughter.  Nothing showed on her face.  But that inviting skin laughed with him.  It drew him and one hand reached to touch it.
“Are you trying to lose some blood now?”
He shook his head.  “He touched your stomach?”
“And I broke his wrist.”
“He wanted to feel your laughter.”  For some reason that angered him more than the thought of the wolf grabbing her, he did not want her to share her laughter with others.
“What?” confusion filled her soft voice.
“When you laugh the only place it is visible is your stomach.”
“Well, that is nice to know.  No more bare stomach for me.”  She growled disgusted.
“I like it.”
“Enough to risk your parts?”  Her stomach rippled again.
“As the wolf said it was worth it.”  He raised one dark blond brow.