Once Bitten


Liza is Paladin, third in power in the Redstar pack. Half witch, half werewolf, but without the ability to change forms, she has an acrimonious history with Caleb, the Alpha’s heir. Then one explosive night, they explore her interest in submission, but he leaves the pack. And her. Five years later, the Alpha orders Liza to bring Caleb home. The years of distance have not dulled his anger at her, or the heat that once flared between them.

Caleb is biding time before returning to Redstar. It’s pleasurably spent with his lover Zach. When Liza shows up, once again at his father’s bidding, he’s angry and hurt, but he still wants her. This time he isn’t letting her go. Zach takes one look at the woman and knows she’s the one for them. But can he accept that her delicious submission in bed goes no further than the bedroom door?

Claimed by two werewolves, Liza struggles to move forward from the past with Caleb while getting to know Zach. But they’ll have to respect her devotion to the pack and her warrior spirit if they’re going to win her.

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Being a witch in a bar full of unfamiliar werewolves should have made her edgy. If they knew what she was, she wouldn’t be welcome. Not that they’d greeted her with wide smiles and open arms. Sidelong looks spoke of caution and curiosity. Instead of worrying about possible hostilities though, she sat brooding into her beer at a small round table in a dark corner. It’s not that she wasn’t uneasy. Hell, right now she could redefine the word. But for all the wrong reasons. The door opened, letting a burst of icy winter wind whirl through the room, and her head snapped up. Watching, waiting to see who would come through the opening. Her sigh of relief was misplaced considering her mission.

Find Caleb. Bring him home.

She remembered the alpha’s order. Use whatever means necessary. Her heart twisted in her chest. She’d stood shivering on his front porch and tried to explain that she shouldn’t be the one to go, that he’d left home because of her in the first place, but Grant refused to hear it, insisted she was the one to bring his son home.

The door opened again, and she shoved aside the longing to see his familiar face, reminded herself she was here to do a job. Nothing more. Nothing less. In and out, Liza, minimal heartbreak.

Around her, the bar filled up and the crowd got rowdier. She watched the females with barely restrained jealousy. Remembered the way Caleb had thrust her away from him after their only night together. His insistence, his furious vow, that he wouldn’t risk mating with a human, and a witch at that, wouldn’t take the risk his sons might be…less than him. Oh, he’d known exactly where to strike her with that. Right at her pride, right at the insecurity that drove her.

Usually a child of a human-lupine mating was wolf. Almost always. Occasionally one was born with latent abilities. Latency came in many forms, however. Some could only shift when the moon was close to full. Some could shift partially. Some had the strength and speed of a werewolf, but couldn’t shift at all. Like her.

Her lips moved, a twisted parody of a smile. She knew all too well how rare those children were and was surprised at the bitterness that rose, sharp and piercing in her chest, thought she’d conquered it years ago. Being sent after Caleb Michaelson was bringing up insecurities she thought were in her past.

Even worse than being born human to a wolf were her useless talents, the powers she always felt just out of reach yet for some reason couldn’t unlock. Her mother swore the dam would break one day, but she’d long since given up that hope and instead had molded herself into a person who could be useful to the pack despite her shortcomings. It didn’t help that they should be sworn enemies. Witches and werewolves did not mingle. Her own mother had been banished for mating with a shifter.

She shook away the memories and concentrated on her job. It had been easy to track down Caleb. As the pack’s paladin—the first ever female and not even a wolf—it was her job to know where everyone was at all times. She’d always known Caleb was here in this northern pack. He had a reputation as a playboy. That knowledge bit a little. Okay, a lot. She wasn’t enough for him. But apparently no one else was either. That tiny bit of vindication had carried her through five years of lonely nights.

The door opened at the same time someone sat at her table blocking her view. He set a beer down in front her, and she realized with a jolt of shock that she’d actually finished hers. Maybe that explained the tightening in her throat, the sudden dryness. But there was also alarm. Maybe a little fear. He’d approached without her noticing. She hoped the magnolia that masked her natural scent was enough to conceal her genetics from him. Get with the program, Liza.

“Now what’s such a pretty lady like you doing in our out-of-the-way little bar?” he murmured.

The interest in his tone was unmistakable. Under any other circumstances, she would have flirted with him, might have taken the time to see if he shared his species’ suspicion of witches, even powerless ones. But not now. Not when she felt Caleb’s presence close by, knew despite the dark corner she hid in that he saw her.

But maybe that worked to her advantage. Knowing that Caleb watched, she leaned forward in her seat, exposing her too-ample cleavage. She glanced around, bit her bottom lip as she mentally prepared herself to flirt with the stranger. Her gaze fell on Caleb though and his eyes snared her, pinned her in place. She sucked in a deep breath, determined not to fold to that icy disapproving glare.

She swore she could smell him. Feel him around her. The sudden memory of him thrusting inside her, claiming her, had her sucking in deep breaths. Wrenching her eyes away, she saw the other man had followed her line of sight. His fingers covered hers as she gripped the neck of the beer bottle.

“You’re going to ignore me for Caleb?” He put a hand over his heart dramatically. “You wound me, sweetheart.”

He startled a laugh out of her, and she wished circumstances were different.

“I don’t think that’s possible.”

His hand was big and hot on hers. She looked up into his eyes. They were warm and inviting, his smile slight but oh so sexy. She wished she could take him up on his invitation, certain she wouldn’t regret a night in bed with him.

“Back off, Zach. This one isn’t available.”

Astonished, she jerked up her head to meet Caleb’s gaze. He sounded possessive, territorial. The other man, Zach, leaned back in his chair and folded his arms over his chest. Indolence and self-assurance oozed from his pores. If her soul didn’t already belong elsewhere, she’d jump him and never look back. Zach arched an eyebrow.

“Changing the rules, Caleb?” All the teasing left his voice as he studied her. “Isn’t that interesting? I don’t think you should get to keep her all for yourself.”

She caught her breath at the implied proposal, but before she could think about it, Caleb leaned over her shoulder and got in Zach’s face. The air charged, electricity arcing among the three of them. She should speak up, get Caleb to back down, but his chest rubbed against her back and the contact she’d longed for for so long held her frozen in place.

“Off. Limits.”

He growled and she wondered what the hell was going on. Zach just cocked his head to the side and gave them both a considering look while he sniffed the air.

“Like that is it?”

“Yes. It’s like that.”

Zach held up his hands, his arms spread wide. An appeasing gesture, but his body was tense and his eyes were hard. Dangerous. He obviously knew Caleb well. She wanted to question him. Find out who he was. He met her gaze briefly, and she wondered if it really was pain that flashed through his eyes. What kind of relationship did he and Caleb have?

“This isn’t like you.”

“I know. Doesn’t change anything. She’s mine.”

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