Bayou Wolves — Excerpt #3!

It’s release week for my new Bayou Wolves Boxed Set: Luc, Cruz and Gianna. I’m thrilled to share the trio’s complete story–and some sexy excerpts–with you!

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CRUZ

My woman is sex on a stick and hell on wheels. Sure, the words are a bunch of clichés, but nothing I can imagine even begins to do her justice. Gianna Lynn is smart, tough, and one of the best lawyers in Baton Rouge—and that’s not my dick talking. This isn’t the first time I’ve watched her work a courtroom, although it is the first time since I seized my chance to fuck her when she and Luc Breaux invited me into their bed that one screwed up, wonderful, fucked-me-for-the-rest-of-my-life night in the Louisiana bayou a month ago. We talked marriage. We were all about the happily ever after—and I meant the forever kind of ending. The next morning, however, she texted me and said she’d rushed into a decision and wanted to slow things down.

Slow things down apparently being code for I can’t believe I slept with two werewolves at the same time and I therefore plan to avoid you for the next four weeks. It’s possible she’s been busy, but I don’t buy that. She ran from me, and that makes my wolf want to chase her. Hunt her, hold her, and convince her that I’m her keeper guy. Since my responsibilities as sheriff also have me in court today, this is my best chance to get started on that plan without veering into stalker territory.

I lean against the wall, arms folded over my chest, and watch her move across the courtroom to the witness stand, her red heels eating up the floor. The white suit and jacket clinging to her figure has me mentally peeling off her clothes and taking down her zipper. The best I can do is not let my thoughts show on my face, because she’s earned her place in the courtroom and I’ll kick my own ass if I screw that up for her. She’s a woman and a lawyer, but too many of the guys crowding the courtroom can’t get past her having a pair of breasts. As if gorgeous tits somehow preclude her having the smarts to lawyer rings around them.

The bailiff is all business, holding out a Bible for her to lay her hand on. I can’t help but notice that her ring finger is bare. The last time I held that hand she wore Luc’s ring, her easy acceptance of that band telling me all I needed to know about her feelings for Luc. My rival slid the pretty diamond onto her finger right after the three of us had sex together for the first and last time. I was already playing second string, second best, and I’d watched the moment, my heart splitting open. I hadn’t asked to have a heart or for it to feel so much, but even then giving up hadn’t been an option.

So I’d said my piece. Told her I loved her too and wanted a future with her. With Luc, if that was what it took. Hell, even Luc agreed to give our threesome a shot, but I’m not convinced either of us really meant it, despite Gianna’s seeming acceptance of our strange new situation. Her text the next morning was a kick in the balls and the heart, and I’ve been waiting for my chance ever since. I want to take charge, to own her. Possess her.

Bad wolf.

“State your name for the record,” the bailiff says.

“Gianna Lynn.” Gianna speaks calmly, a smile playing over her face. A bring it on look, as if she’s looking forward to each and every minute of the hearing. She may not pick a fight, but she never backs down from one, either. That’s something we have in common, and that sets us apart from Luc, who’s never met a fight he didn’t join—and then win. Luc loves winning.

But he hasn’t won our fight for Gianna. Neither of us has. I don’t hear wedding bells ringing anytime soon. My brothers have teased me about my new penchant for ménage a trois, but they think I’m having kinky-ass sex and not a relationship. If they knew the truth, they’d have harsher words for me because the Louisiana wolf packs maintain an uneasy truce at the best of times, and two Alphas loving the same woman is a recipe for disaster. I don’t want to merge our packs and I don’t want Luc. The truth is that I only want one person and she’s Gianna. Accepting Luc was the only way to have her that night in the bayou, so accept I did. If I could cut Luc out of our happily ever after, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

I’m also traditional enough that I’d like to change that last name of hers along with putting my own ring on her finger to make it obvious to the entire human world that she belongs with me. Gianna Jones sounds perfect. Pigs will fly though before Gianna takes my name, and not because she isn’t thinking about keeping me. She’s fought too long and too hard for her place at the attorney’s table to give her coworkers an opportunity to little lady her. She’s more likely to tell me I need to take her name and become Cruz Lynn.

Honestly, if I weren’t pack Alpha and charged with protecting the Jones wolves, I’d do it too. I belong to her and we both know it, so wearing her name for the whole world is fine by me. Hell, I’d do it happily. I grin, and she stiffens on the witness stand as if she senses my presence here. I’ve picked my spot carefully, and I know she can’t see me. When I hunt out in the bayou, I force my prey into an ambush, and the theory’s the same here, even though I have no intention of hurting her.

I’m just going to catch her, once and for all.

And I’m woolgathering, lost in my thoughts while the courtroom proceedings barrel happily on ahead without me.

“I’m a lawyer with a firm in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana,” she says into the microphone in answer to a question I didn’t hear.

The preliminary hearing is the prosecution’s opportunity to prove to the judge that substantial reason exists to go to trial. It shouldn’t be difficult. Gianna was kidnapped by a Baton Rouge motorcycle gang and taken to their clubhouse. Luc and I busted her free, at which point my day job as sheriff came in handy. I’d arrested the wolf who had his hands all over my woman, and now said wolf is about to get his comeuppance in a human court of law. I can hardly wait.

As the attorney walks her through basic stats, including her date of birth, I discover one thing after another that I don’t know about Gianna. I have a collection of those things, filing each new piece of information away. As sheriff, I could look her up in a half dozen different state databases, but that would be unethical and I’ve chosen to play by the rules up until now.

Unfortunately, my competition doesn’t share a similar set of ethics. Luc, the Breaux Alpha, is not what anyone would call a nice guy. In addition to being a good-looking bastard, he’s a fierce, dirty fighter who protects his brothers and their women at any cost. He’s single-handedly held his pack of werewolves together for a good hundred years or more, and under other circumstances I’d raise a cold one to celebrate his finally finding a mate he can love.

Problem is, he not only found my woman, but he found her first. His pack believes that a blue moon rises in the sky to lead them to their fated mates, and Luc claims that’s what happened between him and Gianna. So now he’s got some kind of mystical claim on her that sounds far more romantic and compelling than my I fell in love with you from afar and let’s get to know each other story. I know Gianna’s right for me, but Luc has Fate on his side if you believe him.

Done with the basics, the lawyer deposing Gianna gets down to business. “On the morning in question, did you go to work?”

“I stopped by to meet a witness.” Easy as fishing, she teases the line out, giving it some play to see if she gets a bite.

“How did you get to work?”

“My car had been in the shop, so Luc Breaux gave me a ride to my office. He dropped me off at the back of the building.”

“Why not the front?”

She shoots the examining attorney a charmingly rueful smile. “Between the No Parking signs, the FedEx guys dropping off deliveries, and all the other people popping in and out of the building, that front entrance was Grand Central Station. Pulling into the parking lot behind the building was quicker.”

Luc and I must have gone over her entrance strategy a hundred times. She’d slip into the back of the building, swing by her office and discover her “witness” had cancelled, and then parade on out front with a big target painted on her. We knew the Breed would be watching and had bet that the other wolves would seize their opportunity. Luc’s pack members, Dre and Landry, had been tailing Gianna, and I’d watched too. No way I would let her face the danger alone, not when I could be close at hand, ready to defend her. Neither I nor Luc was happy about the plan, because using Gianna as bait wasn’t right. Unfortunately, it was the only workable option we’d had at the time.

“How long were you inside the building?”

“Approximately ten minutes.”

“And then what happened?”

“I left. I went out front to meet a friend who was dropping off my car from the shop.”

“I’m going to ask you to tell the judge about what happened that evening, after you stepped outside. Do you remember that evening?”

“Yes.” She gives her testimony, all cool and collected, and not being a nice guy, I keep my eyes on her face but remember the details of our last—and only—night together.

She’d asked, “Are you in?” and hell yeah, I was. I’d picked her up in my arms and carried her straight to bed. Never mind that Luc Breaux already had a place in that bed and I’d never had a desire to get naked around the other Alpha. For a chance to love on Gianna, I’d do whatever it took. And he’d agreed. “No pack business in the bedroom,” he’d said, and then we’d both started touching Gianna.

The lawyer nods, clearly ticking off his mental checklist. “Did you meet your friend and pick up your car that night, or did something else significant occur?”

“I moved toward the edge of the sidewalk, looking for my car. My friend had dropped it off, and it was parked on the street. I walked up to it, but before I could open the door and get in, two bikers drove up.”

“How close were they?”

“There was less than a foot of space between their bikes and me. I could feel the heat of their exhaust pipes on my legs.”

“Did you attempt to move away?”

“Yes.”

“And then what happened?”

“The defendant struck me on the side of my head.”

“And what’s the next thing that you remember?”

Gianna hasn’t talked to me much about what happened that night. I don’t know if she just isn’t much of a talker or if it’s me specifically she doesn’t want to share with. She was hurt when that asshole struck her, even if she’d agreed it was part of the plan, and I hadn’t been okay with that. I didn’t ever want her hurt. She still had the bruises, faded yellow and purple, when Luc and I went after her and asked her to be ours. We’d been so busy asking her about her feelings for us that we hadn’t asked her if was still scared of the Breed or worried that this thing with them wasn’t over yet.

I fucked up right there.

“I woke up in what I later learned was the back room of the Lucky Ten.”

“Had you been there before?”

Gianna shakes her head. “No. I’d driven past it, and I recognized the name from multiple court proceedings over the past two years.”

Lucky Ten is a dive bar in one of Baton Rouge’s seediest neighborhoods. It stinks of wolf piss and worse. Rough and violent are the adjectives that best describe even the most casual drinkers there, and some really nasty arms- and sex-trafficking goes down in the back rooms. Luc had made the case that the Breed was also selling to the vampires on the down-low. Since vampires and werewolves are mortal enemies, that particular relationship doesn’t make either Luc or me happy. We both know trouble when we see it.

It’s not the kind of place a woman like Gianna belongs. Fuck me, but it’s not the kind of place any woman belongs. The Breed’s females are either pass-arounds the males share for sex, or they’re prostitutes the pack whores out as moneymakers. Maybe I should have put an end to their presence in my city years ago, even if it meant all-out war and the possibility of exposure. The risks of attacking had outweighed the benefits though, and I’m pretty sure Luc felt the same way. Neither of us would chance getting our brothers killed in an iffy cause.

While Gianna finishes answering questions, I go outside to recon the building and its exits. I gave my testimony earlier, so the judge doesn’t need me. Gianna does, however, even if she hasn’t admitted it yet. The proof lounges right there across the street from me in the form of two big, rough-looking males straddling Harleys. The leather kuttes they wear over their T-shirts proclaim their membership in a motorcycle club, and even without seeing the patches I know that MC is the Breed. The stink of their wolves is all too clear, and that’s before the wolf on the left flashes me the bird. Normally my response would be to cross the street and arrest their sorry asses. There are rules and laws that are meant to be obeyed in the human world, and these two live to cross lines. They’re the kind of males who perform a fucking touchdown dance as they cross said line before doubling back for a repeat violation just to make a point. Problem is, I have Gianna in that courtroom, and the best thing I can do to keep her safe is to act like the sheriff I am. As pack Alpha, I’m the voice of God in the werewolf world, but my sheriff’s badge gives me the right to act in the human world as well, which means added protection for Gianna.

So I just incline my head, letting the wolves know that I’m watching them, and then head back inside, because Gianna isn’t facing trouble down without me at her side. Or better yet, her front. If she’d let me, I’d stand between her and any shit life decides to throw at her.

Inside, the judge has wrapped up proceedings, and Gianna is already standing at the prosecuting attorney’s table, arguing in a low voice with the two older men in suits sitting there.

“Paid administrative leave,” the fat one in the dark suit announces loudly enough that I would hear him even without my wolf’s sensitive hearing. “You go on paid administrative leave, and we put you in protective custody.”

He isn’t asking, he’s telling, and Gianna stiffens very slightly, although the pleasant smile on her face doesn’t fade one bit. If she ever looks at me that way, I’m in trouble. She doesn’t like what she’s just heard, but she’s pushed her reaction down deep and is plotting next steps. She fights as hard as any wolf, but she does it with words and logic.

She’s sexy as hell when she’s kicking ass.

“You can’t prosecute cases while this trial is going on,” the smaller of the two men added. His gaze flicks to the larger man to double-check his words. He smells like drugstore cologne and the cheeseburger he had for lunch. Definitely the Beta.

“The case could last months,” Gianna points out.

“It’s a conflict of interest,” the fat man continues, as if she hadn’t spoken a word. “You think of it as a little vacation, honey. You enjoy the downtime.”

The idiot actually reaches out as if he intends to pat her arm. Fortunately for him, he stops short of actual contact. Gianna does her ice princess shield thing, the expression in her eyes cold, cold, cold. She doesn’t want a paycheck for doing nothing, and she definitely doesn’t welcome her boss’s patronizing words, but she nods her head after a long moment.

“The motorcycle club might come after you again, and we don’t want that.” The fat man shifts uneasily, as if he subconsciously recognizes Gianna as an Alpha.

“No. We don’t,” she says drily. Anger rolls off her in waves, but her boss just beams at her like they’re all on the same shitty page and isn’t life great?

“We’ll set something up with the sheriff,” he declares. “You don’t have to worry. Everything’s going to be fine.”

“I can take care of myself,” she snaps. “I don’t need a man in uniform to do it for me.”

Her boss dithers and flaps—the male wouldn’t last a day in a pack—but she walks away from him, the conversation over. Gianna doesn’t look my way when she exits the courtroom, but she knows I’m here. I’d bet on it. No part of me—man or wolf—likes her ignoring me. But I force myself to wait a beat. She’s pissed off. She’s just been told that she can’t do her job. Now is absolutely not a good time for her.

Deliberately, I catch the eye of the fat man and nod. I’ll protect her.

She’s mine.

I follow her out of the courtroom, already decided. This is the last time she takes the lead while I trail around after her like a Beta pup. Once upon a time when she was still talking to me, she offered to spend a week with me, getting to know me. I’m not entirely sure if she planned on me accepting said offer, but I am. If she doesn’t want to plan our wedding, I’ll take those seven nights starting now.

Feudal? Oui. My pack is long-lived, although we aren’t as old yet as Luc’s. Too fucking bad. I’ve done plenty of living and I won’t apologize for not having been born in the Middle Ages. Gianna has biker wolves following her, hunting her gorgeous ass, and I don’t like it. And although I have eyes on her, I’ll bet Luc does too. Keeping her safe when she’s on the move could start a territory war neither of us wants. If I don’t piss off the Breed, I risk encroaching on Luc’s territory.

But that’s the thing. Luc might own the bayou, but he doesn’t own Gianna. She isn’t territory, even though we’ve admittedly both done our best to mark her. She can’t be forced or taken—she has to want to come to one of us. To both of us. Fuck, but things are messed up. I pick up the pace because I’m not losing her now.

It’s time to hunt.

 

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~ by Anne Marsh on October 17, 2015.

 
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