A savage and passionate breed of mythic wuv. Two men—alpha and mate, fight for their clan, and their lives, and to reclaim the passion one threw away when he left. Loyalty might be earned, but could trust be regained? There are no half-measures in the world of the Zhalazti. One will rule; one will submit. A new pack will arise. It is the law of their species and all will obey. Submit or die.
Tallin Undine, human-made savage wolfish creature. He was once human, now wuv-beast—a creature ruled by the moon—made through moon-madness and savagery, his human family slaughtered. It is a continual struggle to hold on to some bit of his humanity. Scarred by his former lover, a Zhalazti Luminarian of noble and ancient heritage, during a rite of passage, who then abandoned him, Tallin has clawed his way to some measure of standing. But now the vaida, his Zhalazti clan chief, his accepted alpha, has been killed, and the security of his adoptive nation is at risk. His mission—to bring back the man who must battle to claim his position as rightful chief against a Negraluna cursed usurper to the position. One problem – Emmanuel Grimshaw is the very man Tallin does not want to see again. It was Emmanuel who mated him so long ago, and then left Tallin to pick up the pieces of what was left of his life. But Tallin has little choice.
Emmanuel Grimshaw, of the Zhalazti Natasia, a Luminarian, born of full-moon royal heritage, walked away from his clan, his mate, because of the savageness with which he claimed, and maimed, a man he loved, when he was too young to control his beast. He’d gone in search of his humanity, and a way to tame the wuv within. But when Tallin unexpectedly arrives, any peace he thought he’d found with his human companion, Niles, vanishes. And it isn’t long before Emmanuel’s beast within rises and in a savage mating, he reclaims Tallin—binding him, once again.
Zhalazti wuvs, like no other; a mysterious nomadic tribe—not the werewolf of loric myth. Descendants of a Sumarian god and his consort, who birthed the gods of the underworld, and evil demons. Emmanuel will do his duty, but not without the human stray, Tallin, at his side. A battle for survival and love is about to begin. Who will triumph?
All things were dead in the garden, curled up, brown, brittle. Except there was a certain beauty to it in the thin veneer of frost that covered everything. From wilted brittle vine to defeated rose. The crystalline sparkle made it seem as though one stood in a vastly different world than that of human.
Tallin had waited. Upon his arrival in Vienna he’d taken rooms at a hostelry on the outskirts, near a densely wooded area, allowing him freedom to run when his animal urged him to flee the confines of the city. Mostly it occurred in the twilight hours. But it was early morning now as he stood in the garden, behind the elm waiting for Emmanuel to emerge. Having watched him for the last three days, Tallin had discerned his routine.
A smoke in the morning in the garden, to the university for lectures until mid-afternoon. Home to fuck his pet and take tea, not leaving the house again until twilight, and then off to the opera or some social event. Home again at two or three in the morning to fuck his pet again, before turning in for a few hours of rest. Emmanuel rose early, his pet later, obviously exhausted by the long grueling schedule Emmanuel set for them each day. So this was the best time of day to catch him alone. Today Tallin would confront him and then he would know what his next move must be.
He pulled out his pocket watch, flipped it open to check the time, closed it and repocketed it. Any moment now and Emmanuel would step out into the briskness of the winter morn. Being Zhalazti, the chill would not affect him keenly as it did humans. Nor did it affect Tallin in quite the same way. In fact, their kind thrived in the colder climes.
He scented the smoke of the cigar before he actually saw Emmanuel emerge from the house. Dressed in dark trousers and a white shirt unbuttoned at the neck, black leather shoes polished to an unmarred shine. His shirt sleeves were rolled back to reveal his dark, densely pelted arms. He turned away from where Tallin stood at the corner of the garden and stared up at the lightening sky.
He took the cigar out of his mouth, released a line of smoke into the cold stillness. Still a fine fashion of a man as he stood astride. Broad shoulders stretching the white shirt to its limits, tapering to narrow hips, muscular buttocks and thighs—a measure of the beast that thrived in his Lunaria blood. This morning he looked…human. More so than he ever had back in France. He looked almost tamed, so refined. A gentleman. Perhaps even more charismatic and seductive than Tallin had ever seen him.
“I know you’re there,” Emmanuel suddenly said. “You might as well come out of hiding. I can smell you. One does not mistake the scent of wuv blood—even if it is diluted blood.” He spun around to face exactly where Tallin stood. Tallin stepped out from behind the tree. Emmanuel’s eyes flashed, his focus going immediately to the eye patch and the scars on his face. Tallin didn’t flinch.
Emmanuel nodded. “I thought it was you. Why are you here, Tallin? I’m not returning. I’ve found some balance here. Some peace.”
“With your jijo? I take it he serves you well.”
Emmanuel’s eyes flashed angrily, a growl erupted from his throat. “Leave Niles out of this. He’s human and he’s fragile.
Tallin stepped more fully into the garden. “I know exactly how fragile humans are. I do recall something of their humanity.”
Emmanuel lifted the cigar to his lips and studied Tallin silently for a long time. The tip of the cigar glowed orange as he sucked. Tallin recalled Emmanuel’s special skill at sucking.
“You still have a fondness for cigars.”
Emmanuel released a cloud of smoke to meld with the frigid air. He set the cigar on the edge of the table he stood next to. “You should know. You were the one who stole the first box from Shiri. Have you lost your fondness for savoring fine things?”
“I have tempered somewhat.”
“I heard you have been named a captain in Hirmes’ war pack. You have come far in a short time. Few possessed ever—”
“Survive as long as I have?” Tallin said mildly. He should have died in the rite of passage but he hadn’t. He’d lived and thus gained some measure of respect. Of course, he’d not survived without cost.
“I wasn’t going to say that. We both know the reason humans are made wuv. It’s no secret,” Emmanuel said.
“Exactly. I was trained for it, wasn’t I? Treated little less than a slave—humans—jijos—were treated better than I was. But rikos are the expendable ones, aren’t they?”
“I helped you train, Tallin. I wanted you to survive, you know that.”
Tallin smiled bitterly. “What you did was give with one hand and take with the other. I never really knew where I stood with you until the hunt. Then we both knew, didn’t we?”
Emmanuel spun away. “Why are you here? Everything you speak of is in the past. It serves no purpose in bringing it up now.”
Tallin tamped down the beast and the memories. His wounded eye itched, the scars on his face throbbed with the memory. “Hirmes is dead, Emmanuel…”