Home > Arctic Bite (Forgotten Brotherhood #2)

Arctic Bite (Forgotten Brotherhood #2)
Author: N.J. Walters

Prologue


   Cassandra held out her hand and beckoned. “Come with me.” She ignored the crushing sadness that bled from the woman. It was a drawback of the job that she could sense every emotion from whoever she approached.

   The woman looked around, a bewildered expression on her face. “What’s happening?” She looked down at her feet, saw her body lying there, and took a startled step back.

   “It’s okay. I’m here to help.” That was her job, her purpose. And she was damn good at it. Why, then, did her heart clutch a little tighter this time?

   “Am I dead?” the woman asked.

   She ignored the question that they inevitably all asked. There was no point answering. It changed nothing. “Please come with me.” The quicker she finished this job the better. The calm and sense of purpose that had sustained her through the never-ending passage of time was nowhere to be found.

   The woman placed both hands behind her back and shook her head in denial. “No. I don’t want to go. This is a bad dream. That’s all it is. I’m not dead. Really, I’m not.”

   Something inside her shifted. She could almost hear an audible snap. Sorrow cascaded over her. “I’m truly sorry.” And for the first time in her existence, maybe she was. “There is no going back.” No matter how much she might wish differently. She reached out, gently took the woman by the arm, and led her away from the dark alley and fetid stench of garbage and blood, away from her lifeless form.

   The woman’s only crime? Covering a friend’s shift at the restaurant where they both worked so the friend could celebrate an anniversary with her husband. For that, she’d died. A victim of a robbery gone wrong. Simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

   That was fate. And she was a bitch.

   It was so unfair. But then again, no one ever promised life wouldn’t be.

   “There’s so much I have left to do,” the woman murmured. “Fall in love, finish culinary school, get married, have kids.”

   She tried to block it out. It wasn’t anything she hadn’t heard millions of times before.

   But this time was different.

   Still, she had a job to do. But for the first time, she was reluctant. If only she could turn back the hands of time and warn the woman to stay home. But then her friend would have died, and it wasn’t her time. Stiffening her spine and swallowing back the rage bubbling up inside her, she guided her charge forward. “This is where you need to be.”

   A brilliant light shone on the woman. She peered into it and slowly nodded before glancing back over her shoulder. “It’s just not fair.” Then she walked forward and was gone, leaving Cassandra all alone in the dark.

 

 

Chapter One


   “You gonna order something or are you going to sit there all night and brood?” the sexy bartender asked.

   Alexei studied the woman, his intended target.

   Her black hair was sleek and cut short. Way shorter than his. But it suited her, framing her exquisite face and making her pretty green eyes stand out. She resembled a fairy princess in a storybook. No, scratch that. She’d be a queen. Definitely a queen.

   What had she done to warrant a contract on her life? The details had been way too sparse for his liking. Hell, he didn’t even know exactly what she was—only that she had to be “other” or the client would never have contacted the Brotherhood. Being immortal didn’t mean you couldn’t die. Just that you were damn hard to kill.

   “Hello?” She waved her hand in front of his face. He barely suppressed a growl. “What will it be?”

   “Whiskey. Leave the bottle.”

   Since he couldn’t get drunk—he was too damn big, and his metabolism ran way too fast to allow it—he’d need to drink an entire bottle every five or ten minutes to even get the slightest buzz.

   “No can do,” she said with a smile that made his heart skip a beat. “What I can do is keep the drinks coming. Okay?”

   “Set up a dozen.”

   “Whoa.” She straightened and reached for a bottle. Not the cheap stuff, but the top shelf whiskey. Or at least as top shelf as it got here in a small roadhouse tavern on the outskirts of Nome, Alaska. Still, he had to admit, he was impressed.

   “Woman trouble?” she asked.

   You have no idea.

   He grunted and waited while she set out glasses and poured. Her movements were quick and competent. She didn’t spill a single drop.

   “There you go, buddy.”

   “Alexei,” he corrected her. He wanted to hear her say his name. “Alexei Medvedev.”

   “Russian?”

   “Da,” he replied in his native language.

   “Okay, Alexei. I’m Cassie Dobbs, and I’ll be pouring your drinks tonight. Enjoy.” She set the bottle back down and headed toward a couple patrons waving for her attention.

   He downed the first few shots without pause. The alcohol burned slightly before slowly warming his insides.

   Long ago, he’d been nicknamed the Russian Bear. Why? Because he was Russian, and he was a bear. Simple. He preferred things that way.

   The woman on the other side of the bar was complicated.

   I don’t like complicated.

   Not that his life hadn’t been without its challenges. There’d been the incident with a vampire two hundred years ago. It had changed him, morphing his shapeshifting abilities, sharpening them, honing them to a razor’s edge. He survived the attack…barely. Or as he liked to say…bearly. Afterward, he’d been stronger and faster than any other polar shifter.

   He also hadn’t aged, hadn’t died.

   He was something totally new and unique—a vampire bear, a bear vamp—he had no idea and didn’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about it. He was a bear with a little something extra.

   From his seat, he watched Cassie work, unable to take his eyes off her. The dark blue denim jeans she wore hugged her lush ass. Her long-sleeved top covered everything but left little to the imagination. The woman had curves that would make any grown man fall to his knees and give thanks to whatever deity he worshipped.

   The only flash of color came from the dangling earrings she sported in each ear. They were a series of a half dozen silver chains of various lengths, each tipped with a gemstone. When she walked, they swayed and reflected the colors of the rainbow.

   His gums tingled, his fangs itching to drop. He snatched up another glass and downed the whiskey, scarcely feeling the bite as he chased it down with two more, trying to drive back the bloodlust stirring inside him.

   Another unwanted present from the bastard who’d changed him.

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