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Primal Quest Excerpt
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Shapeshifter Romance

Primal Quest Excerpt

 

Chapter One

Mijohin, 862 Neshan Calendar

The risk is necessary, Caidi Satoan thought as she stared out of the inn’s window watching the orange sun sink below the horizon.  The trouble with the trade goods is finally settled. It is time to see to the future.

 

Caidi had always known that finding that one man with whom she could bond for life was improbable.  She avoided contact with her own kind and when she did meet them, getting close enough to scent them meant something had gone wrong.  Over the course of her years as Acine, she had learned to avoid taking foolish risks.  The protection of her pack was a sacred duty and a constant worry when she had to deal with it on her own. 

 

Success of tonight’s quest was as inevitable as their return home to Carait.  The single difference between this and a normal hunt was the choice of prey.  Tonight’s quarry waited in a tavern, not too far away. 

 

Their target, the males of their own kind, the Zarain, wouldn’t suspect anything.  Caidi had ensured that.  She had used the combined resources of her pack and the Feiral pack which also lived on Carait to make this hunt feasible and safe. 

 

Both entirely female packs would benefit from this hunt.  The drive, the pull to mate, to be impregnated, grew with each passing day, a throbbing need that couldn’t be ignored.  They needed to see to the future, to have children. 

 

Just as in any other hunt, they would use the habits of their prey against them.  Shifter males often had sex with human females, but the hunters knew that they would have to be cautious.  A male Zarain or Feiral with his senses unsuppressed by a powerful drug would know at a glance, the first whiff of their scent, that they weren’t human and very fertile.  Drugs had been administered to the men to counter that ability. 

 

Their plans had been made months ago.  Bribes had been paid and instructions had been given to those who would be able to carry out the details of the plan.  Now, all that remained was the wait before the hunt.

 

Caidi turned away from the window and began preparing for the hunt.  She combed her golden hair to a glowing shine and allowed it to hang loose, falling to the middle of her back in soft waves.  Her silver eyes danced as a tingle of nervousness coursed through her.  At her neck, her pulse pounded a furious rhythm.  She took a deep, calming breath. 

 

This hunt would be a success.  In her mind, she chanted the words.

 

As they made their way down the street to the weathered, wooden building which housed Oshiah’s Tavern, Caidi was very nervous.  So much of this had been out of her hands, out of her personal control.  Most of the plan tonight had relied on the ability of others to fulfill their side of the bargain.  It made Caidi uneasy to have to rely on others, non-pack members, for such necessary details, but there hadn’t been any other way to do this.  The Zarain and Feiral women were strangers to this planet and couldn’t stay here long. 

 

This wasn’t like the other times that she had had to fool a shifter or group of shifters.  This time she would be in bodily contact with the shifter.  She couldn’t rely on her usual means of fooling them.  They had used those methods until they had left the inn, but couldn’t risk using them now.  The contact was going to be much too close tonight. 

 

Caidi received a nod from one of the serving women when she and the other Zarain females entered the large, open main room of the first floor tavern.  Caidi breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed.  It was safe.  The drug had been served to everyone in the tavern. 

 

Caidi and the seven other members of her pack mingled among those in Oshiah’s tavern.  It was more of a gentleman’s club with rooms upstairs available for the use of the members for a fee than true tavern.  Caidi saw Chey across the room and nodded at her in response to her smile and the slight lift of Chey’s mug. 

 

Caidi began to hunt in earnest for a man to father her child.  As he was part of this world, he wouldn’t want a safe home or family or the responsibilities that came with those things.  Caidi knew that no man she met here would try to follow or find her after she left.

 

She wrinkled her nose in disgust at the heavy odor of perfume and body odor that assailed her as she moved through the room scattered with wooden tables and chairs.  Someone had tried to disguise the lack of a bath with a heavy splashing of perfume.  Goddess, this was awful.  How could any Zarain, male or female, stand this for long? 

 

The smells, the restrictions, the lack of space were already beginning to choke Caidi.  Even if it were possible, she couldn’t endure the confinement of this city for more than a night.  As she moved through the crowd, she kept her gaze centered on a group of black haired, shifter males at the back of the room.  With any luck, those large men were Zarain.

 

Caidi noticed one of the women from Chey’s pack, a woman named Asia, smile and turn away from the men.  She walked over to Caidi and leaned close for a moment.  “They are all yours.  The one at the back would be the one for you, very alpha; although, don’t count on him remaining here.  I get the feeling that he has had more than enough of this life.”

 

“Good luck,” Caidi whispered as she walked toward the men sitting around the large, round, wooden table. 

 

Asia’s words rang in her head.  It was for that isolated possibility that they had gone to such lengths.  There was always the chance that the man wouldn’t want to let the woman leave if he knew she was shifter as well as one that the man just grew tired of city life. 

 

The men around the table were large, very muscular as was normal and expected in a Zarain man.  Caidi ran her eyes over the men in a cursory inspection.  They all had dark hair ranging from a deep brown to shining blue-black and all had dark, golden-brown skin.  Every single one of them had silver eyes. 

 

Caidi studied them for a moment, noticing their posture and attitude.  She decided that Asia had been right.  The man at the back was the alpha of this group and, from the way his eyes roved over her body, was interested in her. 

 

He had long, straight, black hair that was secured at the back of his neck and he looked harder, more experienced than she had thought that a man who lived on Mijohin would look.  For a city dweller, he looked every inch the warrior.  High cheekbones and a hard jaw-line heightened the impression that his hadn’t been an easy life.  Over shoulders which were impossibly wide, he wore a white shirt which was open to the navel, revealing a chest covered in black markings that seemed to emphasize the corded muscles under the flesh.  As her eyes lowered, they traced a corded abdomen and lean hips. 

 

He was sitting back from the scarred, wooden table, leaning against the light tan wood of the wall.  Tight, black, leather pants encased strong, muscular legs.  She frowned as she caught sight of his black boots.  They were clean but scuffed.  Well worn, they weren’t the polished articles that she had expected to see on a man who lived his life in a city.  Her gaze swung to his waist.  That sword was no mere ornamentation.  A tiny warning began to sound within her.

 

“Sit.”  The man at the back of the table gestured to a seat next to him.  That deep, rumbling growl tugged at her insides, tightening her abdomen as desire stirred.

 

Caidi pushed down the doubts that plagued her.  There was no reason to delay this with idle chatter.  She wasn’t here to talk.  She had a mission to complete and stirring the Zarain within him would ensure that she completed it.

 

“No,” she shot him a taunting smile.  “You are not the man I am looking for.” 

 

She turned and walked into the crowd, looking for a safe challenger, a human.  Someone, he wouldn’t consider a real threat.  She didn’t have a doubt that he would follow her. 

 

 

Raven Talinian felt unexpected anger rise within him as the woman walked away from him.  Determination, hard and urgent, rose within him; she was his.  No-one else would have her.  He rose to his feet and strode after the woman who had pulled him from his sorrows and the restlessness that had been plaguing him.

 

The curves of her body drew his eyes.  Full, proud breasts promised a handful of luscious flesh even for his large hands.  The sweet curve of her hips and high, round ass called to the beast within that longed to feel those lush curves moving beneath him.  He would wager that she had long, toned legs beneath that long sleeved, green dress which begged to be removed.  One thing was certain; he was going to know every inch of her. 

 

He knew that she was young, maybe in her twenty-fifth year, but certainly not over twenty-six years old.  His height and width dwarfed her; although, she was of average size for a woman.  The light, sun-burnished gold of her skin glimmered in the lamp light.  Shining, honey blonde hair framed her face and fell in glorious waves down her back. 

 

His hands tingled in anticipation of touching the soft, rounded contours of her face, to see if the skin was as soft as it looked.  Wide-set, tilted, silver eyes had stared at him with a curious calmness.  High cheekbones, a pert nose and a sweetly lush mouth, the lower lip full and pouty, completed an enticing visage. 

 

He stalked after her, catching her as she was smiling at a young, dark-haired human.  A low growl rumbled in his throat as he turned her to him with a hand on her shoulder.  Irrational jealousy swirled within him.  She should be smiling at him.  He pulled her away from the man she had been gifting with her smile and crowded her into a corner, letting the Zarain scent take over since she wouldn’t even sit and talk with him. 

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