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Touch of Temptation : Book 6 in the Primal Instinct Series
Kellan Scott, the Lycan shape-shifter, has vowed to redeem his playboy past...even allowing himself to be captured by his enemies to save a woman he's never met. Once imprisoned, stealing into Chloe Harcourt's cell is the easy part--withstanding her irresistible beauty is next to impossible.
Chloe has struggled to keep her unusual powers over other people's emotions in check, never trusting that any man could truly love her for herself. Until her mesmerizing rescuer awakens a primal craving for contact.
Their all-consuming passion is their strongest weapon against their sadistic captor. But Kellan's biggest battle may still lie ahead: to convince Chloe he's worthy of her undying love...or die trying.
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November 01, 2010
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Excerpt from Touch of Temptation by Rhyannon Byrd
Dark temptations lead to darker pleasures...
The problem with trying to act like a good guy was that good guys played by the rules. They didn't lust after those in need of their help. They didn't act on their baser instincts. Didn't think about what was between a woman's legs when they were meant to be saving her life.
Since the moment Kellan Scott had set eyes on the youngest Harcourt witch, he'd been struggling to be good. But Christ, he wanted to be bad.
Bad. Dominating. Dirty. If it was explicit and it was sexual, he wanted it with her. Didn't matter how hard he tried to fight it, or how determined he was to keep himself in line. He still wanted her. And the news wouldn't have shocked anyone who knew him. In fact, it was exactly what they would have expected from a guy whose existence could be defined by four words.
Watchman. Werewolf. And world-class fuckup.
The first was easy enough to explain, if one had an open mind. Though most humans were clueless about such things, the truth was that many paranormal species lived hidden among them. They were called the "ancient clans" and for the most part the various species lived in peace with humanity. But...not always. And that was where the Watchmen came in. A highly skilled organization of shape-shifters, it was the job of the Watchmen to keep "watch" over the clansmen and -women. Though the majority of their work consisted of surveillance assignments, ensuring the secrecy and security of the clans, there were times when they were called on by their superiors to kill something that needed to be killed--which was why Kellan was one hell of a soldier, trained both in weapons and hand-to-hand combat.
And the werewolf part--well, that pretty much explained itself. Perhaps the only clarification that could be made was that he could control the changes in his body, rather than having them dictated by the cycles of the moon. And contrary to modern beliefs, he couldn't be killed by a silver bullet, though it hurt like a bitch whenever he managed to get himself shot. Still, despite the fact that the werewolves' healing abilities were some of the strongest among the shifter clans, he could die before he reached the natural end of his life if he bled out. For that reason, the simplest way to kill a Lycan--a werewolf--was to slash its gut open, spilling its insides. A fate Kellan had been lucky enough to avoid.
But while the first two distinctions were things he could be proud of, it was unfortunately that last one--fuckup--that best defined the true essence of his character. That, Kellan was most widely known for...and that was the one thing he truly excelled at.
As far as truths went, it was a bitter one to swallow, which was why it'd jammed in Kellan's throat a few months before...and he still hadn't managed to swallow it down.
In fact, it was that choking sense of guilt that had landed Kellan in his current set of circumstances. Those circumstances being his incarceration in the secret hideout of a raging psychopath who was out to turn the world into a living hell for humans and clansmen, alike.
When the idea for this harebrained rescue had first come to him earlier in the month, after he'd finally tracked down a lead on where Chloe Harcourt was being kept prisoner, it'd seemed so straightforward. Find the witch. Protect the witch. Save the witch. Suicidal, no doubt, but a beautiful plan in its simplicity--until lust had jumped in to complicate the hell out of it. Still, Kellan had seen the situation as the perfect answer to the burning question of what he was meant to do with his embarrassing waste of a life. It was hard to live up to expectations when your older brother was one of the most righteous badasses around, but that was Kierland for you. Kellan loved the guy like crazy, but he'd have been lying if he said he wasn't tired of feeling like the proverbial village idiot when measured against his paragon of a sibling.
Then again, he didn't need to be compared to Kier-land to look like a tool. No, he'd managed that embarrassing distinction all on his own.
In the midst of a war, he'd made the ultimate blunder: he'd listened to his dick instead of his brain and unknowingly screwed one of their enemies. To make it worse, Kellan hadn't even figured it out until it was too late. Until he'd almost cost an innocent woman her life--a woman who was now engaged to one of his closest friends.
Talk about a mistake that you'll never live down.... Choking back a harsh growl, he used the back of his forearm to wipe the sheen of sweat from his brow, narrowed his eyes and kept on with his task, his muscles burning as he fought to force open the door of his jail cell. Though he'd already picked the lock, the door, which was made of iron bars, was fitted with a counterweight that would have taken at least three human males to lift, and Kellan was doing it on his own. Cold air prickled against his skin, the flickering flames of the fire in a nearby hearth doing little to take the chill from the air, and yet, he continued to sweat from exertion. Continued to push himself to the point of agony, a grimace curling his mouth as his mind churned over that fateful night last fall when things had gone so wrong.
Yeah, nothing like endangering the lives of innocent people to give a guy a head-cracking eye-opener. Months later, he was still reeling from the blow. Still coated with the slimy film of shame that'd been slinking over him like some kind of toxic shroud.
It made him feel like a jackass to say it, but until that moment when the shit had hit the fan in Purity, Washington, Kellan had lived his life for one specific purpose--that purpose being pleasure. Known as the carefree "playboy" of his Watchmen unit, he'd earned a reputation early on for allowing his sexual appetites to get him into trouble. For too damn long, sliding between a hot pair of legs had been his way of releasing his pent-up frustration with life. His coping mechanism for a less-than-stellar childhood and deep-rooted emotional hang-ups. Or so he'd been told. Things had been shaken up lately in his Watchmen unit, several of his friends taking the plunge into romantic bliss, and the sudden female influence was showing its mark. Now phrases like self-awareness and emotional baggage were thrown around like handfuls of therapy confetti. And Kellan's new gal pals had made their opinions concerning his dissolute lifestyle painfully clear.
You're selling yourself short.
You're using meaningless sex as a diversion.
You're acting like a thickheaded man-slut.
"Bitchy little harpies," he murmured affectionately, knowing damn well that they were right about him. They weren't saying anything that he hadn't already figured out on his own.
After his colossal pooch-screw with that seriously heinous dark-haired, green-eyed female who'd been playing him, Kellan had been forced to take a long hard look in the mirror. Wouldn't have been so bad, except that he hadn't cared for the man staring back at him. True, it could have been worse. He could have been a murderer or a rapist or some other pestilent sleaze who deserved to rot in eternal damnation. Instead, he was just...hell. He was a kid who'd never taken the time to notice that his ass had grown up. That his actions had consequences. Ones that had serious implications when his friends and colleagues were in a fight for their lives.
It'd been a sharp blow to his pride, but one Kellan figured he should have seen coming. The signs had been prickling at the edges of his consciousness for a while, making him increasingly restless. Uneasy. Little twinges of awareness that had whispered insults in his ear. Most of the time, it was just name-calling, but sometimes. sometimes those whispered insults got personal, lecturing him about his choices. Warning him that no matter how many built, stunning women he took beneath his body, he still wasn't going to find that one thing he needed.
Warning him that it was time to stop acting like a useless waster and actually do something with his life.
Since he agreed, Kellan had finally decided to take action. And without a doubt, he'd definitely started the new year off with a bang.
In the ballsiest move he'd ever made, he'd traded his freedom for a cell. Had purposefully allowed himself to be captured by the enemy, which had resulted in his subsequent beating, torture and imprisonment.
And all for the little witch sleeping in the cell next to his. The one delicate female who had completely turned his world on its head. Who was a complete stranger. A woman he'd never even met.
And one who he was determined to talk to, which was why he was currently doing his best to get that bloody door open.
Though Kellan had already been at the compound for two full days, he'd only had a few brief glimpses of Chloe as the guards had taken her from her cell, to the upper floors, and then back down again. But he'd gleaned as much data as he could. Flashes of perfectly smooth, pale skin. Sleek, dark hair. Fey face. He'd thought about the details until their memory was burned into his brain like a brand, scarring his sanity.
She'd been taken upstairs again in the early hours of that morning, but had finally been brought back to the underground level two hours ago. Two hours that had felt like a living hell while Kellan had struggled to get his rioting emotions under control and focus on the task at hand.
"All that matters is getting her out of this place," he muttered under his breath, same as he'd been doing since he'd first set foot within the Wasteland, where the enemy compound was hidden. A mystical region created by powerful magic, the Wasteland was a cold, dangerous, desolate realm where "nests" or family units of vampires were exiled after judgment had been passed against them. Most vampires, otherwise known as the Deschanel clan, resided in "nesting grounds" located throughout Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. The grounds were ancient, sprawling castlelike communities where extended families lived for security, the lands protected by spells that kept them hidden from the outside world. But the exiled Deschanel families were forced into the Wasteland, where it was every man, or vampire, for himself.
After traveling through the region, Kellan could vouch that it pretty much sucked for Lycans, too. And yet, he'd have done it again in a heartbeat.
He didn't know how to explain it, and so he'd given up trying. He only knew that it felt right. That he was where he was meant to be.
From the first moment he'd seen Chloe Harcourt's photograph, she'd been in his every thought, impossible to forget. One moment he was staring at the picture of the cute brunette, and the next thing he knew, he was doing everything he could to find her. If it was the last thing he did, Kellan intended to get this woman back to her family and have at least one selfless, worthwhile deed listed among a lifetime of mistakes.
But while the need to prove himself might have sounded like a reasonable explanation for his suicidal actions, it still didn't explain his obsession.
And there's no arguing that I'm obsessed.
During the past two months that Kellan had known Chloe's human stepsister, Olivia--ever since she'd ended up with Aiden, his fellow Watchman--he'd constantly asked questions about the little witch, desperate to learn everything that he could. And while he knew many of the basic stats--she was half Merrick, half Mallory witch, single, a bit of a loner, self-employed, had a degree in design and enjoyed art and cooking--it wasn't enough. He wanted to know every intimate detail. What made her laugh? Made her smile? What made her cry or drove her crazy? What were her favorite smells and did she prefer the sunshine or the rain? The dazzling rays of dawn. or the evocative, moonlit shadows of the night?
And he wanted to touch her. But that was the one thing he couldn't do. Not after the mistakes that he'd made...or the danger he could pose to her in his current condition.
Earlier that week, as he'd been fighting to make his way to this godforsaken place, Kellan had been infected by a poisonous vampire named Asa Reyker, whose family was among the many Deschanel nests who'd been exiled to the Wasteland.
As a Lycan with extraordinary healing abilities, Kel-lan's body was currently managing to cope with the poison polluting his system, so long as he stayed calm. But his ability to cope wouldn't last...and staying calm wasn't easy. The witch's scent called to those most dangerous, visceral parts of him. Parts he could barely control after traveling for so many days in his primal wolf form. He'd known what he was risking by going completely beastie for so long, but he'd had little choice. The Wasteland was a treacherous place--even more so when you were traveling alone. If he hadn't given himself over to the wolf, he never would have made it.
But that doesn't mean that I can't control you, he snarled at the predatory animal prowling the confines of his body, the beast desperate to get its hands on the witch and slake its lust.
Wanna bet? it taunted, the sneaky bastard searching for any signs of weakness it could exploit. I'm not gonna hurt her. I just want to...play.
Kellan's hands shook as he curled his fingers around the door's thick iron bars and pulled, his nostrils flaring as he helplessly sucked in more of Chloe's lush, intoxicating scent. He could taste it on his tongue in the way that only an animal could, the provocative flavor making his mouth water. Hunger rode him hard, battering against his reason, but he locked his jaw, struggling to tighten the reins on the wolf..
"You're losing it, Lycan. You need to take a deep breath and calm down."
The soft, huskily spoken words belonged to Raine Spenser. She was another prisoner--and one who'd suffered far more than Kellan had. Part-vampire, part-psychic, Raine had been captured several weeks ago by Ross Westmore, the raging psychopath who was holding them...and who had forced Raine to use her powers against Kellan's fellow Watchmen by killing her sister and kidnapping her little brother.