Deliciously handsome, insatiable, alpha male Hawke of Knight Watch has a reputation for having a voracious and varied sex life. However, his ability to attract streams of men and women to his bed comes into question when he meets the mysterious Ice Princess, Lydia.
Lydia, born of both Fae and Pride, has a secret. Unable to chance the man of her dreams discovering the truth about her, she publicly refuses the handsome Prince Hawke.
Disillusioned and heart sore, Hawke must fight the battle of his life against the dogs invading his realm, and for the love of his true mate.
Excerpt from THE GREAT BOOK OF THE PRIDES
Personal entry: King Blaise of Knight Watch
Spring brings the yearly scenting of females for the Knight Watch. I hope with all my heart Hawke finds his mate this season. I have concerns over my youngest brother, Jannus, who recently returned from Lioness. My mother raised him under the supervision of females. Jannus reached his majority two years ago and yet refused to join me here at Feltich Castle. Nox, the King of the Fae, insists the boy possesses a rare magyck and has watched over him in my stead.
In the mountains bordering, the Land of the Five Gates, a rogue Gate opened yesterday, causing the Lonza Pride great concern. I have sent Dare with a small battalion to watch over any attempt to breach our realm. I have faith the Lady protects us all.
Hawke opened one eye. Gods, his head ached like a bitch, and his tongue stuck to the top of his mouth. He yawned, then licked the taste of female arousal from his lips. The pungent aroma from many hours of sex filled the warm, humid air. He grinned, slid his palm over the soft, round buttocks of the female lying beside him, and then pushed the long, raven hair from the back of the Fae male sleeping on his chest. What a sinful night. He and the Fae twins, Dray and Dominic, had made the impulsive decision to visit the Demon's Den Tavern in Dryad. The week before the Scenting, females from every realm traveled to Dryad, seeking long nights of passion.
He ran his tongue around his teeth and sighed, enjoying the multitude of tastes he found. Inside his mind, his cat purred in sated contentment. Hawke lifted his head and gazed into Dray's sleepy, green eyes. "Good morning."
"It will be a very good morning." Dray moved his warm mouth against Hawke's chest, nipping at his flat nipples. "I need you again."
Hawke grew instantly hard. Dray's dark hair brushed across Hawke's skin in a silken caress. He met the Faerie's deep, green gaze and his mind filled with the image of driving his tongue deep inside the Fae's soft mouth. Dear Lady, he could not get enough of the Fae twins. Dominic rose from the end of the bed, flashed Hawke a cheeky grin, and then lowered his sweet, wet mouth to his cock. Hawke purred with pleasure; the twins always took care of him.
Fleeting memories crossed his mind, although in truth, most of the previous evening had leaked from his memory. Wine had flowed in great abundance, and the females, Lady's blood, had begged for his attention. Rolling his hips to enjoy Dominic's hot mouth, he tried to sequence the events of the evening.
He vaguely remembered taking the twins and at least two females to his bed last night. He wracked his alcohol-frizzled brain for a name, any name to match the female with the tempting, golden ass under his palm. Angela? Annabel? No, she was the one with the silver braids. Suzanna?
The room crackled with energy, and a Circle of Light shattered the stillness. Hawke groaned and stared into the angry face of his brother, King Blaise of Knight Watch. Standing beside him, with a bemused expression, stood Nox, the King of the Faerie. Great, a delegation of kings. Look at them, dressed in black with faces like prunes.
The Fae twins jumped off the bed and fell to their knees uttering apologies. The female slept on in blissful ignorance, curled with her smooth back, away from him. Hawke grunted his objection and reached down to drag a sheet over his nakedness. He heard Blaise's sharp intake of breath, turned his back on the kings, and buried his face in the pillow.
* * * * *
Blaise rolled his eyes. What could he to do with his brother? To find a prince in a brothel when plenty of females resided in the castle gave the wrong impression to the people of Dryad. Of late, his brother had become more cat than man. In truth, Hawke constantly prowled around looking for sex, and not many males or females escaped his charm. The twins practically lived at the castle. Blaise had no idea why Hawke needed to seek out the company of harlots, gauged on the constant stream of lovers climbing the stairs to Hawke's bedroom. Blaise ground his teeth. Somehow, his brother encouraged Nox as a lover, too. His hands clenched into fists. He glared at the back of Hawke's golden head. "Don't ignore me, I know you're awake. Have you forgotten the Scenting?"
"No . . . but I'm having too much fun here." Hawke lifted his head and glowered at Blaise. "Can't you just leave me alone?" He met Nox's emerald gaze, and a seductive smile curled his lips. "You can stay."
Flaring his nostrils, Blaise growled deep in his chest. The room stunk of sweat, sex, and spoiled wine. Bottles of Miza littered the floor, spilling sticky trails of red across the polished wood. He kicked a path through the clothes, strewn in piles around the room, and made his way closer to the bed. In a blink, the Fae twins vanished from sight. Blaise turned to look at Nox, who lifted one broad shoulder before tossing him a wink.
Blaise leaned over the bed and shook Hawke's arm. "I'm taking you home now; have you forgotten who you are? Is this any way for a Knight Watch prince and the commander of my army to behave?"
"For the Lady's sake stop screaming at me." Hawke pulled a tub of lube from under the pillow and set it on the nightstand. "I'm not a cub. I'm off duty and am entitled to do as I please. And for your information, I'm extremely happy not having a mate."
Blaise dragged the sheet off Hawke and his companion. "Many have traveled from the far reaches of the Five Gates to bring their daughters to Feltich Castle. You're the prize they seek. Do you dishonor me by not attending?"
"Shut the hell up." The female opened her eyes. She sat up and blinked at Nox. "Heavens, am I supposed to do you as well? Not on an empty stomach, I won't. A girl needs to eat you know. Well, don't just stand there get me some food."
Nox raised a brow at Blaise. "I'm sorry, whores don't get breakfast."
Blaise shook his head and reached into his pocket for a gold coin. He dropped it on the bed and turned to Nox. "Get us out of here before I do something I regret."
* * * * *
Nox grinned. Hawke had a sexy way of looking at him that turned his knees to jelly. His cock certainly had a mind of its own when it came to Hawke. To be honest, the prince's seductive, crooked smile and his smoldering gaze could lure lovers from twenty paces. He knew instinctively which males enjoyed man love—Hawke never made a mistake in that direction.
He sighed; in truth, he wanted Hawke and silently wished the mate he chose would join the cozy relationship he had with Hawke and Allure the Fair. Allure, however, constantly insisted Nox find his own mate. He considered this idea for a split second and gazed back at Hawke's blatant invitation. He met the man's royal blue eyes and nodded slightly. "You stink. I believe an hour or so in the hot spring would be most beneficial."
"What have you done with the twins?" Hawke slid to the edge of the bed. He turned his attention to the female, who had dragged a sheet around her nakedness, the gold coin clutched in one hand. "You should leave, Nox here, might just change you into a toad." He flashed Nox a mischievous grin and pulled on his pants.
Nox waited until the female collected her clothes and fled the room. He flared his nostrils. The rich, musky smell in the room excited him. The heady allure of Hawke's unique scent drew him like a sexual magnet. The sight of the delicious male, naked and aroused, made his mouth water. Gods, he could not drag his gaze away from Hawke's golden skin. He caught Blaise's angry gaze and cleared his throat. "The twins will be back after the Scenting."
He drew a Circle of Light and stood to one side, allowing Blaise to drag Hawke through the shimmering space. Nox picked up Hawke's distinctive black, silver studded boots and followed them into the hot springs at Feltich Castle.
* * * * *
Lydia sat on a mossy rock and combed her long, midnight hair. Sunlight warmed her face and a light breeze carried the sweet perfume of bluebells from deep in the forest. The river, heavy with the melted snow from the mountains, lapped at her feet. Spring burst across the countryside, from the golden heads of primrose, to the vivid, green shoots abundant on every branch of the trees.
The midday sun's rays warmed her body like a lover's caress. Her mind turned again to Hawke. How strange to see his proud, black leopard in her forest, marking his territory in blissful abandon. Then to witness him morph and plunge into the river to wash off the blood of his kill. Hawke's pungent scent had driven her cat into a frenzy, and she'd barely prevented the beast taking over and running to the Knight Watch prince.
Lydia had run, keeping downwind, but since their brief encounter, Hawke constantly invaded her thoughts. Breaking every rule in the Book of the Fae, she used her powers to walk in dreamscape to get closer to him. Taking the place of females in his dreams, she had enjoyed his hard body, night after night. She knew his scent, the feel of his skin under her fingers. The taut muscles of his forearms surrounding her, his kiss, dear Lady, she knew the taste of him. Her face grew hot, and her gaze darted from side to side. Gods, if anyone found out she possessed such magyck . . . let alone used it on a prince. She shook her head—how could anyone know?
Lydia gazed at the flowing water, and her mind relived the moment the prince rose from the river. He mesmerized her with his tall, muscular body, his golden skin, and the shank of platinum hair curling down his back. Hawke of Knight Watch had become her destiny. Spring had arrived, and his cat called to her, demanding her presence.
The picturesque river flowed swiftly below the weeping willows. It brushed against the bank, and collecting the last, brown, winter leaves, transported them like boats to the waiting coast. She gazed at Bo and smiled. Last summer, he had become a wonderful friend. If things had been different, he would have made a considerate lover. She loved his windblown, russet colored hair, his turned up nose, and those delightfully long, pointed ears. How she wished he could be her mate.
Panic clenched her stomach. She turned to Bo and gripped his arm. "Run away with me; we can live in the forest."
"No, the guards will find us. You have no choice but to do your uncle's bidding." Bo dipped his toes in the flowing water and looked at her mournfully. "The cravings for Hawke won't stop, Lydia. If your cat believes I'm the obstacle in your path, she will soon break free and kill me. You're losing more control of the beast every day."
"You know I can't accept him, no matter how I feel. I would disgrace the Night Watch. It's not as if he's a normal Pride male."
"Do you think I want to see you with another?" Bo gazed at Lydia, his eyes deep, green pools of sadness. "Unbitten, you will never have a cub with me, and if you could, your family would never accept an Elf into their Pride." He moved to her side and slipped his arm around her shoulder. "You have to go to the Scenting or they will hunt you down and drag you there."
Lydia placed a hand on his thigh and rested her head on his shoulder. "I'm not strong enough to fight against his scent. One whiff and I crave him. Lady help me if he takes me and then finds out . . . ."
She looked up into the Elf's eyes and saw the pain etched there. She cared deeply for Bo and hated to see him hurt. What can I do? She touched his face. "I crave the scent, but in truth, I know little about the man."
"It's not within our power to go against the Lady's wishes." Bo took Lydia's hand. "I care for you, but I've always known you would be mated to a Pride."
Lydia sighed. "I know deep in my heart that Hawke will reject me the second he discovers the truth."
"How will you survive without him?" Bo rubbed the back of Lydia's hand with the pad of his thumb. "When you've inhaled his scent you will suffer the pain of separation. In truth, I believe you suffer this now."
She stared across the river to the yellow and black ducks nesting in the waving reeds. "Under certain circumstances, there is a way to stop the cravings. Nox has powerful magyck to deal with such things. His lover, Allure the Fair, is my mother's cousin. When Hawke refuses me, my mother will send word to him, and Lady willing, with Nox's help, the hunger will stop."
"If you plan to go against your family's wishes and consider a relationship with me, you must allow him to bite you. Once bitten, you will be able to accept my childseed." Bo bent to kiss her cheek. "And a rejected female may choose her mate. It's our only chance to be together."
Lydia shuddered and buried her face in her hands. "No, I can't let him bite me. If that happens, all the feelings, I have for you will be gone. I'll belong to him—body and soul. I'm sorry . . . I can't risk losing your friendship, Bo. If they force me to attend the Scenting, I'll try to avoid him."
"It hurts me to say this, but if the Lady made you for Hawke, why would you believe he would reject you?" Bo ran a hand through his windswept hair.
Lifting her chin, Lydia met his gaze. "He is so perfect . . . a warrior of the highest standing. He is the King's right hand in the militia. Can you really see him proudly escorting me on his arm? I'm deformed. My cat's a freak."
"No, you are the most beautiful female in all of Doucheron." Bo rubbed the back of his neck. "Your cat is the sleekest feline. How could you say such a thing?"
Lydia met his gaze and shrugged out of her dress. "Why would a prince want to mate with this?"
* * * * *
The next second, the air around Lydia shimmered and her white tiger broke free with a roar. The cat turned its gaze on Bo and crouched, every muscle tense beneath its silken, white coat. Bo froze and watched her open silver, diaphanous wings. With one bound, she took to the air. The cat circled over the river and landed in a tree twenty paces downstream on the edge of the woods. She awed him with her magnificence.
Bo picked up Lydia's discarded clothes, walked to the bottom of the ancient, oak tree, and stared up at her. "This doesn't solve anything."
The big cat flashed its iridescent, green eyes, folded its wings, and growled its discontent. Bo shook his head. "You're special—not a freak. Come down at once."
The big cat fluttered to his side, landing softly on the forest floor, and then shimmered back into Lydia. He smiled at her and offered her the pile of clothes. "That's better."
"No, it's not." She spun around to expose her back. "The cat got the perfect wings, and I got these. What male would look on these with love, Bo? Come on, tell me the truth."
Bo ran his fingers over the small set of black wings and watched them slip slowly into her back. Lydia had great beauty, with golden skin and a soft rounded bottom. She had long legs to encircle a male's waist, breasts like milk and honey. Her eyes, the color of the deepest green, set in the face of an angel. He wanted her love so badly, yet he could offer nothing more than friendship. He sighed, turned her to face him, and touched her hair, curling a silken strand around his finger. "Your wings are small but perfectly formed. I think they are delightful."
"Humph. Just like a male. I hate them." Tears poured down Lydia's cheeks. "So many Pride have mated with Fae, and no other came out like me. I'm not Pride, and I'm not Fae. How could I ever expect Hawke to make me his life mate?"
Without hesitation, Bo pulled her naked body against his chest. He pressed kisses across her cheeks. "I love you just the way you are. Don't worry. If your uncle forces you to go to the Scenting, I will follow close behind. When all is done with Hawke, if you still want a relationship with me, I'll go to Nox."
"It would be better for my mother to approach the problem with Allure. Why would you think he might assist you?" Lydia brushed at the tears on her cheeks.
Bo smiled. "Nox is the King of the Faerie; even a lowly Elf can ask him for help."
"And what if I succumb to Hawke, and he takes me for his mate." Lydia trembled in Bo's arms. "What will you do? You know if this happens, any affection I have for you will fade from my memory." She shook her head. "I cannot prevent this. It's the Lady's way."
Bo forced a smile. He took her shoulders and gazed into her beautiful face. How he valued their friendship. He wished she truly wanted him for her lover, but in his heart, he knew the truth. She belonged to a Pride. She must never know his true feelings. I love her enough to set her free. Lady give me strength. "I've always known this, but it will never prevent us being friends. Nothing will change. I'll return to my home." He raised a brow. "There is a male there who stirs my loins. He will make me very happy." No female will ever replace you in my heart.
A horse's whinny made him turn. Through the trees, a group of soldiers approached led by Lydia's uncle. Bo pushed his friend toward the cover of a dense honeysuckle bush. "Get dressed your uncle is coming."
"Go, I'll be okay," Lydia whispered.
He pressed a kiss to her forehead, inhaling her scent and trapping it in his memory. "I'll follow you to Dryad."