Banished by his mother's vampire clan a century ago after a liaison with the clan leader's pureblood daughter, half-wolf, half-vampire Indigo Mercier has made a new life for himself as part of the Draicon wolf pack. Now, Avril Antoine haunts only his most forbidden dreams—until one night she appears, seeking his protection!
Avril has endured her own punishment for her affair with the Changling. But with the Anastasia charm—a crystal with the power to grant wishes—about to fall into the wrong hands, she can trust only one to guard it with his life: Indigo Mercier! But Marcus has felt a connection to Elizabeth for a long time, ever since he rescued her from being ravaged by his cousin ten years ago! Can he go through with a plan that calls for him to do essentially the same thing—without falling in love with her?
Crimson droplets welled up from the needle pricking sun-darkened skin. Puzzled by his bloodlust, Indigo Mercier focused on creating the tattoo. An odd tingling warned him something powerful had stirred his sleeping vampire half.
I am Draicon wolf, he silently chanted as he wiped Gabriel's arm with a clean white cloth.
Sweat dripped down his temples as the tattoo gun whirred. He adjusted the gooseneck lamp and ignored his rising hunger. Indigo hadn't taken blood in a full century. Dining on his adopted brother was not a good way to start.
“Ow, that hurts,” Gabriel Robichaux pretended to whine.
“Shut up and take it like a man,” asserted Raphael Robichaux.
“I'm a wolf, not a man,” Gabriel shot back.
“Move any more, and you'll be a wolf with a crooked heart,” Indigo warned. “I told you to ease off the beer. Now you're bleeding on me.”
Indigo's New Orleans ink shop was quiet this night, one day before All Hallo's Eve. He did free tats for the Robichaux family. The Draicon pack, unlike his mother's vampire clan, would never banish him for an innocent love affair.
Art came alive beneath his skilled fingers as he inked Gabe's strong right bicep. He thought about his own tattoo, a symbol of his shattered past, and Avril Antoine.
Daughter of his former clan's leader, Avril was a pureblood vampire. Indigo had taken her blood and virginity a full century ago. Xavier, Avril's father, had banished him afterward because Indigo was a Changling, a half-vampire, half-Draicon werewolf. Lower class in the vampire hierarchy.
He'd fled to New Orleans and met the Draicon werewolves of Raphael's pack. They treated him as a brother. He had respect and acceptance.
“Finished.” Indigo stripped off his gloves and tossed them. He disassembled the tattoo gun, cleaned the needle bar and tube and then placed them in the autoclave to sterilize them.
As Gabe and Raphael admired the art, Indigo's thoughts drifted. Wishes were stupid, and he was a fool. Still...
I wish Avril were back in my arms for just one night.
As the thought faded, a faint sound sent both his werewolf and vampire senses on full alert.
“Intruder. Back room,” murmured Rafe, his nostrils flaring.
Gabriel's dark eyes flashed amber, signaling his wolf's emergence. “Not Morph, not human.”
Morphs, former Draicon who turned evil by murdering a relative, could shape-shift into any animal. They killed ruthlessly and absorbed the terrified victim's dying energy.
Indigo motioned for them to remain. Silent as his wolf, swift as his vampire, he crept to the shop's back. He picked out a shadow rippling across the floor. His six-foot-seven-inch body moved in a silent tsunami of stealth.
As the shadow moved, Indigo pounced.
Air whooshed from his prey as he straddled the trespasser. Indigo felt luscious curves and his body stirred in instant response. Every sense flared as he inhaled female musk and gardenias. His vampire half responded as fangs erupted in his mouth and his phallus hardened.
It can't be her, he thought in startled realization. My wishes never come true.
“What the hell do you want?” he rumbled.
A heartbeat of silence passed. Then a soft, melodic voice said, “You, Indigo Mercier. I need you.”
Indigo loosened his grip on the slim wrists he'd pinned down. He levered himself off as if the woman beneath him blazed with fire.
With a shaking hand, he fumbled for the light switch. Overhead halogen bulbs showed the figure of his sweetest, most forbidden dreams. Avril Antoine stood, her waist-length blond hair spilling down a backside he'd once caressed. All dewy-eyed and still as fresh-looking as if a full century was only yesterday.
“Indigo,” she said softly. “I've missed you so much. We have to talk.”
A knot wound tight in his stomach. He paced over to the wall. Not far enough to escape her lovely scent, forget the taste of her full, wet, red mouth. Tight designer jeans and a lacy white shirt accentuated her lush figure. At six feet tall, she resembled a supermodel—with fangs.
She wore a wide velvet choker around her neck. The sight of it enraged Indigo.
His, no, her clan's symbol of a blood-bonded vampire. Avril fed from only one male.
Possessive instinct roared to claim her. She had been his in the fullest sense of blood and the flesh. No longer.
“This isn't 1909 anymore. Haven't you heard of e-mail?” he demanded.
He led the way to the tattoo room. As soon as she spotted Raphael and Gabriel, she bared her fangs. Indigo recoiled, remembering how she'd been conditioned to distrust werewolves.
“Draicon. Four-legged fur balls.” She hissed at them.
“Nice batgirl.” Gabriel turned to him. “Old friend of yours?”
“Or enemy?” Raphael studied Avril with a level look.
Indigo's gaze never left Avril. Beneath her intoxicating scent, he smelled fear.
“Leave,” he told his brothers. “Now.”
The minute Raphael and Gabriel left, Avril ran pale hands across her blanched face. “I forgot how many Draicon live in New Orleans.”
“I'm one. Forget that? How about another little reminder? I'm shunned and if you're seen with me, you risk banishment yourself.”
As she neared, his body went ridged and tensed for sex. Indigo put space between them.
“I had to come here. You're the only one I could come to for protection. The only one I trust,” she pleaded.
Confusion and concern collided like his two warring halves. “The only one? What kind of B.S. is this? Since when does Xavier's cherished daughter need me? You have a legion of vampires who readily kicked me out on my ass to 'protect' you.”
“I'm sorry for what happened.” She paused. “Please. I'm not asking for me.”
If he thawed, he was toast, with those sweet violet eyes looking at him that way. Never could resist anything she wanted. Just one bite, Indigo, she'd begged him long ago. I want you to be my first.
“What the hell for, then?”
Avril reached inside her shirt and pulled free a gold chain. Dangling from it was a triangular-shaped crystal pulsing with an eerie blue light.
He nearly swallowed his tongue. “The Anastasia charm? It's bunk.”
“It's real and so are its powers to make wishes come true. That's why I need you, Indigo. I need you to protect the crystal before it falls into dangerous hands. Because if it does, your world will cease to exist. And there's nothing we can do to stop it.”
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