Lovers instinct, p.1
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       Lovers Instinct, p.1

         Part #1.50 of Moon Shifter series by Katie Reus
 
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Lovers Instinct
Page 1

  Chapter 1

  Esperanze Cordona rolled her suitcase to the front door of the house she shared with her four—three—sisters. For a moment her breath caught in her throat as that familiar pain lanced through her heart. She still couldn’t believe Alicia was gone. Didn’t know if she’d ever get used to it. Part of her felt guilty for leaving her siblings so soon after their youngest sister’s death, but she needed to get out of the house and away from her entire pack.

  Just for the weekend. One of her former professors was giving a lecture in DC and she hadn’t seen him in close to thirty years—since before shifters and other paranormal beings had come out to the world two decades ago—so this was the perfect opportunity. While she respected his work and wanted to see him, the truth was, she just needed to get away from the ranch. Maybe it would dull her pain.

  As she opened the front door, she immediately smiled. Pain from thoughts of her dead sister lingered in her heart, but seeing Nikan Lawless on her doorstep soothed some of it. From the moment they’d become friends, she’d noticed his calming effect on everyone, herself included. The tall, dark-haired, bronze skinned shifter might be part of the warrior class, but he was incredibly laid-back.

  Thanks to his Native American roots, the sharp planes of his face and high cheekbones would make him an artist’s dream. She dabbled in photography and was working her way up to asking him if she could photograph him. Every day for the past few weeks she’d found herself looking forward to their nightly walks and conversation, but hadn’t found the right moment. “Hey, you caught me on my way out. ”

  “I know. I’m going with you. ” His deep voice was so unique she’d be able to pick it out of a crowd of thousands.

  She blinked, sure she’d misheard him. She’d just seen him last night and he hadn’t said anything. “What? Why?”

  A casual shrug of those incredibly broad shoulders. “Connor’s orders. ”

  “I don’t understand. The pack can’t afford to lose you for the weekend. ” Over the past few months their pack had undergone some serious changes and threats from outsiders. Before Connor and his small, all male pack of warriors had united with theirs, Esperanze’s pack had lost almost two dozen members, including all the males, to poisoning. That combined with a human element known as the Antiparanormal League who had been wreaking havoc on their pack meant her packmates needed all the security available at the ranch.

  His full mouth quirked up at the corners, giving him what some females of the pack considered an irresistible quality. “I’m glad you think so much of my abilities, but they’ll survive without me. ”

  Rolling her eyes, she shook her head and pulled her suitcase out behind her before shutting the door. “It’s just a weekend trip. I’ll be fine by myself and I don’t need a babysitter. ”

  “Trust me, Essie, I don’t want to be your babysitter. ” He often called her Essie instead of Esperanze and for some annoying reason it always made her heart beat just a little faster.

  She wasn’t sure why the tall, broad shifter had befriended her, but she was glad he had. She hadn’t had many male friends who weren’t academics so it surprised her how much she and this warrior had in common. “Then tell Connor that. I’m sure if he hears it from you that you don’t want to go on this trip—”

  “I never said that either. ” He lifted her suitcase with the kind of ease that reminded her exactly how different they were.

  Where she was a beta—one of the physically weakest of the pack—he was not only an alpha shifter in nature, he was a warrior, born to protect the pack. “So you want to go with me to DC?”

  Instead of responding, he turned and strode across the yard toward the parking structure where most of the pack kept their vehicles. For a split second she contemplated arguing with him, but he had a stubborn look in his dark eyes that told her it would be pointless. Not to mention she loved his company. She followed him and slid into the passenger seat of his truck while he loaded her stuff into the extended cab. Before she could settle in, he’d opened her door and was strapping her in. The intimate way he leaned closer, brushing his chest against her breasts, stunned her.

  She wanted to stop her physical reaction but couldn’t. Her heart rate increased as his spicy, sandalwood scent twined around her in an almost seductive embrace. Though she would never admit it, she’d had a couple fantasies about what it would be like to have his strong, muscular body naked and covering hers. Immediately she chastised herself. Nikan was her friend. Nothing more. She’d seen the way her female cousins looked at him. And they were all alphas, much more his type.

  “For the record, I want to be anywhere you are,” he murmured in her ear, so close he might as well have run his tongue along it.

  That thought sent a shiver snaking through her but then she felt stupid. Men like Nikan didn’t go for women like her. It was one thing to be friends but another to be lovers. He occasionally flirted with her but she was pretty sure it was just innocent.

  Before she could catch her breath or even respond, he’d pulled away and shut the door. Only then did she allow herself to push out a long pent up breath. Suddenly the impending trip to Washington, DC, seemed unbearably long.

  Just because she had a teeny tiny crush on Nikan didn’t mean anything. They were friends, nothing more. She wasn’t stupid enough to fall for an alpha. Her own mother had done that and it was something Esperanze had vowed never to repeat. Not after seeing the unbalanced relationship of her parents. As Nikan pulled out of the parking structure, she turned on the radio before settling back against the seat. She could get through this weekend just fine. It wasn’t as if he’d be going with her everywhere.

  * * *

  “What do you mean you only have one room booked?” Esperanze’s voice was civil as she spoke to the woman behind the hotel’s reservation desk, but Nikan bit back a smile as she tried to contain her annoyance. He knew she had a temper underneath that buttoned up exterior and he wanted to see it.

  “I’m sorry, ma’am. With the conference being held next door we’re booked solid and something must have happened to one of the room reservations. I’ll be happy to call around and find another hotel for you. I’m so sorry—”

  “That won’t be necessary,” Nikan interjected.

  Esperanze swiveled to look at him. “What do you mean it won’t be necessary? There’s only one bed. ”

  “It’s a king-sized bed. I can keep my hands to myself if you can. ” He dropped his voice a couple octaves and forced himself not to smile when her cheeks flushed bright red.

  She opened her mouth but nothing came out, so he gently nudged her aside and finished dealing with the woman at the front desk. It was certainly no mistake that they only had one room. He’d called ahead and cancelled his adjoining room. Sneaky? Definitely. If that’s the way he had to play it to get sweet and sexy Esperanze to pay attention to him, he had no problem with slightly underhanded tactics. He’d admit what he’d done later. Maybe.

  This friends-only thing was getting old. He loved being her friend but wanted a hell of a lot more. At first he’d thought she was just teasing him, that her coyness was part of their courting before he took her as his mate. After a few weeks he’d realized that she wasn’t coy, just oblivious to the effect she had on him.

  It was like a hunger growing inside him, clawing and needy every time she was near. He’d kill for just a taste of her and when he’d heard she was going away to this conference—away from the pack and her sisters—he knew it was the perfect chance for them to be alone together.

  As they strode to the elevators he couldn’t help but sneak looks at her. Her waist length dark hair fell in soft waves down her back. Most of the females of their pack had
much shorter hair, a symbol of the changing times and their embracement of human styles, but not Esperanze. He wouldn’t change a thing about her, especially not that gorgeous hair. He wanted to run his fingers through it while she rode him, wrap his hands around it while she—

  “What?” she demanded.

  He blinked, and found himself staring into her very annoyed green eyes. “Uh, what?”

  “You’re staring. Do I have something on my face?”

  When he shook his head she let out an exasperated sigh and punched the “up” button again. As she did, she muttered under her breath about the stupid hotel. Once they stepped into the elevator he could barely contain his groan. Her sweet exotic scent wrapped around him. It reminded him of coconuts and the beach. Of lying on the sand and indulging in lazy, playful sex.

  “. . . and it’s not as if you have to come with me tonight. The first lecture—”

  “I’m coming with you. ” He had no idea what she’d been talking about but he was going wherever she was.

  “But why? You’ll be bored out of your mind. ” Her brow knitted together as she turned to stare up at him.

  When the elevator dinged and the doors whooshed open, he stepped out first to make sure there wasn’t a threat in the hallway. Danger was unlikely, but some things were ingrained so deeply in him, he couldn’t change his need to protect.

  Continuing to frown, she stepped out after him and practically stomped down the hallway toward their room. He followed with their suitcases and just enjoyed the view of her tight backside. Before this weekend was over he was going to have his first taste of her. The first of many as far as he was concerned. He’d show her so much pleasure she’d have no doubt that he wanted more than friendship.

  Then he’d convince her he wanted forever.

  Chapter 2

  Esperanze slid her mascara wand into its holder then twisted it shut. Done. And by a quick glance at her slim watch, time to go. She didn’t want to be late for the first lecture.

  As she opened the bathroom door and stepped into the hotel room she found Nikan lounging against the giant bed. The bed they were supposedly going to be sharing later that night. Yeah, she’d just see about that.

 
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