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Never get between a wolf and his mate. Billionaire. Casino owner. Tall, dark and deadly. Cristaldo Luceres is a potent force and a dangerous wolf to cross. Head of the House of Luceres, he’s used to fighting—literally—off any threat from rival houses. Wealth and women are his, but the one thing missing from his life is his mate. Cristaldo’s on full alert when trouble comes to town in the beautiful shape of one Miss Everly Affini. The talented musician won a shot to play at the coveted Nero’s in Cristaldo’s Glittering Palace… and she could be the one, Cristaldo’s Forever Mate. One problem is that she doesn’t think so—and isn’t shy about telling him—and another is that Rocco, an enforcer for the House of Ribelle, the Luceres’ sworn enemies, thinks she’s destined for him. Oh, and it’s the most powerful super blood wolf moon of the century, meaning chaos is unleashed. Too bad. Once Cristaldo has the scent of his Forever Mate, he’ll fight for her…to the death if necessary. Everly doesn’t stand a chance.
I stared out at the night, the pull of the waxing moon yanking hard. Taking a gulp of my Dalmore 62, the finest single malt whisky ever produced, I raked a hand through my hair. The need to run free was building, growing stronger by the hour. I ached to let the clean, dry desert wind blow everything else away.
Blame it on the blood moon, an ominous portent to all my wild forbearers, scheduled to rise over Las Vegas’s towering skyline in a matter of days. All my billions couldn’t stop that trickster from wreaking havoc on my kind. Not that I would trade places with any otherworldly creature. Nothing beats being a werewolf. Nothing. Especially being a billionaire werewolf, with more money and possessions than any other wolf—and most humans—on the planet.
I savored the final gulp of the fragrant whisky with its drumroll and smooth finish. It would prove amusing to see what my rivals at the House of Ribelle had planned during the event, necessitating me showing those mongrels their low rank in the pecking order. My wolf bristled at the very idea, prepared to strike.
I dropped my glass onto the proofs of the recent interview I’d done for Business Leader Quarterly. The founding of the Royal Bank of Luceres and the recent expansion of our casino enterprises into several new countries was the stuff of legend and warranted a huge center spread in the magazine. Amusing really, humans being unable to see even that which what was right in front of their noses. My photo stared from the piece, all GQ to the public, but the slick surface hid a beast, one ready to burst forth at a moment’s notice.
And that beast, bored and weary at the sameness of the days, needed a change. Where was the excitement? The new challenge? Having gathered all the riches the world had to offer didn’t fill the deep void of longing, growing stronger by the day, of wanting something more. Only to myself would I admit that my life was lacking, that surrounded by so many, I was lonely.
Maybe it was time to choose a mate? Even if she wasn’t the famed Forever Mate so valued by the pack, at least I would have company at night. Someone to share my victories with. No. I wanted the real thing. A true mate at my side, anointed as being the chosen one of destiny. I raised my head and closed my eyes, catching a sense of change on the wind. Something was coming…
My office door slammed wide open, causing a low growl of warning to escape my throat before I caught sight of the intruder who’d broken my concentration. Ah, Lucius. My identical twin. He’d come bearing dubious gifts, by the look of it.
Two frightened young women preceded my brother inside the penthouse offices of the Glitter Palace casino. They should be scared. Lucius might have been named for the light, but his heart was filled with darkness.
“I caught this pair skulking about, asking the dealers questions about our operation and generally making a nuisance of themselves. I intervened when they bribed one of our staff into letting them into the restricted area…bribed with the promise of a free blow job.”
“That’s not fair,” the taller of the pair objected. They were beautiful women, tall and blonde and done up in the stock-in-trade of those looking for a good time. Or to provide one. I raised a sardonic eyebrow at her as she continued her protest.
“I’m just a student of hotel management, trying to get some pointers from those working in the real world. My friend Brandi only came along for company. I’m Jill, by the way.”
Even from twenty feet away I could smell the smoking lie that scented her skin. Normally I would tell them both to strip, to prove themselves innocent. Today, I found the idea abhorrent. Lucius gave me a strange look, waiting for my reaction. I nodded at him. You want this, go ahead.
They both stared at Lucius with huge doe-like eyes.
“What?” Jill asked, her gaze flitting back and forth between me and Lucius.
“You heard me. If you’re innocent, strip,” Lucius said.
“I’m not wearing a wire.”
“Prove it. I’ll let you leave if you’re clean.”
The one called Brandi shook her head. “I’m not doing this. You can’t make me.” She hugged both arms around her upper body.
“I can and I will. We’re the only authority here at the Glit.” Lucius used the shortened version of the Glitter Palace, our casino’s name. His demands had aroused the taller one—her scent saturated the air with a sweet musk. My nose twitched, ambivalent about the odor.
“What’s it to be, Jill? Strip or banishment?”
“So ban me. I don’t care,” Brandi said.
Jill looked my twin straight in the eyes, challenging him. She raised her arms in a graceful arc and undid the strings tied at the back of her neck, letting her short blue chiffon gown fall in a shimmer of fabric the length of her body to puddle on the floor. Underneath, she was naked except for a tiny pair of white lace panties. Her luscious double Ds were firm and upraised, the nipples tight and protruding out a good half inch, begging to be pinched and sucked. Apparently, Jill liked to be told what to do, like a long string of Jills before her. Bored now, my mind drifted. Even my wolf seemed to find the display less interesting than usual, just sitting back observing instead of wanting to play.
“See, no wire,” she said. She twirled in a full circle, her long blonde hair cascading around her, her breasts swaying with the graceful ballet-like movements of her body.
“How about under those panties?” Lucius asked, the challenge clear. One thing we did agree on—there was nothing on earth more beautiful than the female body. But today, I sat and contemplated having another strong drink, drumming my fingers on my desktop.
She hooked her fingers into the elastic waistband and eased the panties down her long tan legs, exposing her complete Brazilian wax job. Then, slipping the lace over her four-inch platform heels, she threw them at Lucius. He caught them and took a deep whiff of their fragrant dampness. “Nice. Now you.” He pointed at the other girl.
She shook her head. “No way.”
I suddenly realized I’d prefer to go for a run than be here. The pent-up lust from the pull of the coming wolf moon made my skin ripple with the urge. If this female was reluctant, then banning her from the premises would suffice. Neither I nor Lucius would force a woman. Why should we, when they all came of their own accord? Not that I wouldn’t mind a good chase for a change—as long as I won. And I always win.