Hunger, the kind that burns deep, scorching every nerve ending. A desire so strong that it cannot be denied.
“We are very honored to have our special guest with us tonight, the reason for this gala, and isn’t it a glorious event?” His voice boomed over the microphone, the thousand people in attendance cheering as the powerful man searched the crowd, the spotlight following his gaze.
As the bright beam washed across my table, I gave him a respectful nod as the closest guests congratulated me, several women squeezing my arm. I allowed them a few moments of attention as the chair of humanitarian causes clapped along with everyone else in the room.
However, I was eager to end the evening, tired of making small talk with influencers, politicians, and celebrities, something I usually enjoyed. I even considered it one of the perks of my billion-dollar business.
My vice president leaned over, lifting a single eyebrow. “Don’t look so thrilled,” Alex said, laughing.
“Oh, I assure you that this award is very special. Imagine the dollars that will be brought into our coffers.” My response was met with a roll of his eyes.
“Everything is always about money.”
“Absolutely, my dear friend. That’s why you can afford the yacht you just purchased.”
Alex seemed surprised that I knew. There wasn’t a single thing that went on in my city I didn’t know about. As the cheering died down, the chair finally lifted his arms to silence them. At that moment, I adjusted my bow tie. The money spent on the event could feed thousands.
As the chairman went on, expressing his gratitude for the people of Chicago, I closed my eyes. Almost instantly, I felt a swell of anguish in the pit of my stomach, the kind of intense hunger that I’d fought against becoming crippling. My palms were sweaty, my pulse increasing. With everything I had, I shoved aside the burning hunger erupting in my system as another vibrant vision swept into my mind. Her shimmering face. Her voluptuous body. My need only doubled, desire roaring through every cell and muscle.
“Who are you?” she asked before backing away, her lower lip quivering.
I inched closer. “I’m your worst nightmare. I’ll also be your savior.”
“I don’t need a savior.”
“Mmm… That’s where you’re wrong.”
Her laugh was strained, her eyes never blinking as she stared at me. In the depth of her soul, she knew what I was, a beast who’d hunted and secured his prey. Yet her fear was subdued, her desire overwhelming. I sensed the changes in her body as her pussy lips swelled, her nipples becoming fully aroused. My mouth watered at the thought of tasting her, quenching my thirst on her sweet nectar.
My nostrils remained flared from her scent, the intoxicating fragrance creating filthy thoughts, boosting every need burdening my system. She was the one.
And I would enjoy every moment of devouring her. As I continued advancing, her breath became scattered. Within seconds, she would succumb, offering more than just a taste. When she backed against a wall, I sensed her continued trepidation, her misunderstanding of what was required of her. Soon, she would learn.
And she would obey.
Yet she surprised me, the strong, virile human, darting for the door. I took a deep breath, allowing her to believe she’d gotten away into the darkness. Away from me. After issuing a primal growl, I bolted from the house, catching her easily. As I yanked her around to face me, she made the mistake of scratching her nails down the side of my face. The force she’d used had been enough to draw blood, but within seconds, the ridiculous injury had already healed. In the waning light of the afternoon sun, she watched in horror as the wounds closed. The moment her eyes opened wide in amazement, I threw her over my shoulder.
“What are you?” she mumbled, clearly shaken by what she’d just seen.
“Such a bad girl. You will learn not to disobey me. And the answer is, I’m your master.”
After storming inside and slamming the door, I pushed her against the wall, raking my hand down the front of her dress, ripping it to shreds.
A look of rebellion crossed her face, and she slammed her hands against my chest, prepared to drive her fist into my gut. I snagged her hand in mid-action, cocking my head. My thoughts swirled around everything I wanted to do to her, my needs dragging me out of my ability to control them as my wolf crowded closer to the surface.
With a single snap of my wrist, I was able to remove her dress entirely, my chest heaving as I continued to drink in her delicious aroma. Every cell was on fire as I slipped a single finger into the waistband of her panties, easily pulling them away. When she stood completely naked in front of me, I had no ability to curtail my natural urges.
Those of a dangerous man.
And those of a carnal beast.
As she narrowed her eyes, allowing them to fall to my already throbbing cock, the temptress dared to defy me in another way, brushing the delicate tip of her tongue across her lips. Then she tilted her head, daring me to take her.
She had no idea what beckoning me would do. But she would soon learn.
I fisted her hair, jerking her onto her toes as I rubbed the rough pads of my fingers all the way down the length of her back. Her skin was so soft, like rose petals, the shimmer in her eyes exposing her body’s betrayal. She longed to surrender, to let go of her inhibitions, but a thin layer of fear was keeping her from accepting her place.
Towering over her, I took several deep breaths before capturing her mouth, crushing her lips against mine. While she planted her palms against my chest, there was no resistance. As her touch continued to excite me into a frenzy, I enjoyed the moment of dominating her tongue. Everything about her was perfect, her lithe body molding against mine perfectly. Within seconds, she was mewing into the kiss, undulating against me.
My balls tightened as I squeezed her bottom. I ached to be inside of her, shoving my cock all the way into her womb. As the seconds passed, I was forced to accept I had no control left. When I lifted her from the floor, she thrust her arms around my neck, tangling her long fingers into my hair. The second I broke the kiss, she whimpered, her breathing scattered.
“I’m going to fuck you.” My words weren’t said as a warning.
They were expressed as a promise, not only for now but for years to come.
She wrapped her legs around me, clinging to me as her eyes shifted back and forth, her ability to focus stripped away.
There was no additional hesitation. I plunged my cock past her swollen folds, pleased at the way her pussy clamped around the thick invasion. Everything about the gorgeous blonde was tempting, including her defiant nature. There was a mixture of hatred, confusion, and excitement in her eyes. My mouth twisting, I could read every thought racing through her mind, her disbelief at what she was experiencing.
As I thrust hard and fast, every nerve seared from the touch of her alone, I slammed both hands against the wall, rising onto the balls of my feet.
Her cries filtered into the air as I fucked her savagely, pounding her against the surface until echoes rose above her whimpers.
Flesh of my flesh.
Blood of my blood.
The words tumbled in my mind, fueling the raging fire that remained desperate to be fed.
But the creature would never be satisfied.
As her breathing skipped, her heart beating in time with mine, I could tell she was close to coming. She lolled her head, gasping for the precious air she needed to survive, trying desperately to ignore her body’s cravings.
It was no use. As her body began to shake, a powerful climax sweeping through her, I threw back my head and roared just before my release.
I had difficulty breathing as the vision faded, my skin remaining clammy. The vibrant images had been as real as the four I’d experienced over the last three weeks, perhaps even more so. The pain as well as the explosive desire remained, but my anger was increasing. What the fuck was going on? I’d never experienced anything like this before.
The rut. The need to mate. The desire to consume.
The thought was ridiculous but something I was finding it difficult to ignore.
“Whoa, buddy,” Alex hissed, managing to snag my glass before I turned it over. “Are you okay?”
Hissing, I realized my cock was still twitching. “I’m fine.”
“You’re just about to be the star of the show. Do you want me to stop Jeff from introducing you?”
I could feel Alex’s heated gaze remaining, his concern only increasing. While the vision was disconcerting as fuck, even more so was the fact I’d need to feed before the night ended.
“Now, may I present our Humanitarian of the Year award to a man who needs no other introduction. Mr. Gabriel Dupree.”
I rose to my feet, taking my time to button my jacket before moving through the rounds of tables. All eyes were on me, especially the women, but I had no plans on indulging in my sadistic needs tonight. There was work to be done. I managed to curtail my savage nature before walking onto the stage, but I knew it was only a matter of time before I lost control.
Jeff Porter was a small man in comparison to my size. He seemed almost overwhelmed as he gazed up at me while handing over the crystal statue, backing away almost instantly. There wasn’t a single person in the room who wasn’t fearful of my regime.
However, my keen sense of smell allowed me to gather the delicious perfume of every woman, their scents boosted by just how wet they’d become. They had no idea what kind of man I was behind closed doors.
And they should hope to never find out.
As every guest rose to their feet, I could see the lineup of reporters ready to capture the moment. All three of the local television stations were represented, hungry for a sizzling story. I took a deep breath, waiting until the applause died down. Two minutes and fourteen seconds. I was losing my touch given the last time had been well over three.
Exhaling, I kept my smile, glancing from one side of the room to the other. “Thank you very much, Chairman Porter. I am deeply honored to be standing in front of you today. I am also thankful to the thousands who supported such a worthy cause. Without your assistance, this year’s fundraising events would not have exceeded expectations by almost fifty percent. You should be congratulated.” Another round of applause kept me silenced until I threw up my hands. “However, I would be remiss if I didn’t offer my gratitude toward my vice president. Alex, you always go above and beyond, something I will never forget.”
I lifted the award, holding it in his direction as the cameras were redirected toward our table.
Then I walked off the stage, forced to push my way through several people as they rushed toward me. After placing the award in front of Alex, he gave me a mischievous grin.
“You’re good. I’ll give you that,” he said. “But you and I both know it’s bullshit.”
Smirking, I took a sip of my bourbon, knowing that in about ten seconds, every reporter in the room would advance like piranhas. As expected, I was surrounded, microphones stuck in my face.
“How do you plan on exceeding your fundraising activities next year?”
“What are your plans for Dupree Enterprises?”
“How do you feel about topping the city’s most eligible bachelor list?”
At least the last question made me laugh. “How do I feel? Fantastic. Although sadly, I have no time for a personal life.”
It would seem every woman in the room groaned.
As the questions continued, I noticed a reporter I didn’t recognize inching closer, his eyes never leaving mine. When he managed to shift directly in front of me, I sensed easily that he was here for another purpose.
“Mr. Dupree. It’s widely known that you are the first-born son of the most powerful mafia family in the entire United States. How can you honestly expect anyone to believe you actually care about hungry children?”
I found it interesting that such a small man would have such a powerful, booming voice, loud enough that he managed to drive his question over all the others.
His question caused confusion as well as additional curiosity.
As I turned to face him, the crowd surrounding me backed away, their expressions full of fear. To his credit, the unknown reporter didn’t budge from where he stood, the wry smile on his face managing to piss me off. When I’d closed the distance, I allowed an almost unrecognizable growl to slip from my throat.
He didn’t seem fazed in the least.
I found the punk amusing as well as annoying. However, I wouldn’t allow him to get under my skin. I’d worked far too hard on keeping my corporation entirely legitimate.
Even if there was a distinctly different and much more profitable side to my company.
“I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of meeting you,” I said, as if I’d located a long-lost friend.
“My name doesn’t matter,” he responded.
I tilted my head, allowing him to see the slight but often mesmerizing change in my eyes.
The reporter swallowed, a single bead of sweat appearing just below his hairline. At least he’d gotten the point not to fuck with me. I pushed my anger below the surface, waiting for his answer.
“Joe. Joe Brooks.”
“Well, Mr. Brooks, now I’m happy to answer your pointed question. You are correct that I am Chandler Dupree’s son, one of five. While I realize that my father has been involved with some… unscrupulous activities, the work I perform with several amazing charities should never be considered a reflection of any aspect of my father’s life. And I will repeat. Never.”
He opened his eyes wide, but I could tell the little asshole wasn’t likely to let this go.
“This is a night of celebration,” Alex interjected as he flanked my side. “If you would like to learn more about the significant number of hours Gabriel has worked with these various organizations or the millions of dollars we’ve donated, then I’ll be happy to provide that for you.”
I couldn’t help but grin. I’d chosen the perfect man to stand by my side. He was honorable, highly respected, and there wasn’t a bad bone in his body. He was also loyal and protective as hell. Alex knew about the other business opportunities I’d been involved with for years. He simply chose to look the other way.
He also knew that it wouldn’t be in his best interest to cross me.
“Very well, Mr. Dupree. However, I find it interesting that the FBI has opened an investigation on your business’s activities.” Joe threw it out to create a scandal.
He managed to enrage me. The thudding in my heart as well as the rumbling in my loins indicated I could lose control far too easily. I took a deep breath, holding it for several seconds, fascinated as several of the other reporters came to my defense.
“Mr. Dupree is an honorable man.”
“This is a celebration. You need to get out of here.” Jeff finally made his way through the crowd, already looking for the security he’d hired.
Joe backed away, his eyes never leaving me. “Fine. I’ll go. But now you know you can’t hide behind your façade any longer.”
If only he understood what kind of mask that I’d been forced to wear my entire life.
Even though Joe moved away without another incident, Jeff pushed the reporters away, mouthing ‘I’m so sorry’ before doing so.
“Fucking asshole. What the hell was he talking about?” Alex asked under his breath. He’d learned the rules of playing the events, making certain he never appeared flustered or on the edge.
One thing I knew, I had to get the fuck out of here before I lost all control.
Fortunately, the ringing of my phone interrupted me. “Yes?”
“I’m sorry to interrupt your evening, boss, but you need to get down here.” My soldier’s tone of voice concerned me.
“What’s wrong?” I scanned the room for my Capo, easily able to see him over the others in the room. As soon as he caught my look, he moved in my direction.
“Let’s just say I found a thief.”
After telling me where he was located, another growl popped up from the bowels of my being. “I’ll be right there.”
“What’s wrong?” Alex asked.
“Some business I need to take care of.” When I gave him a look, he knew better than to ask what kind of business I was referring to.
“I’ll take your award with me.”
“I appreciate that.” I kept my jacket buttoned as I moved toward Bronco. The man had been by my side for six years. While brutal in every aspect, he’d also learned how to blend into any situation.
“Problems?” Bronco asked.
“Nothing we can’t handle. Let’s go.”
In my line of work, I’d experienced only a few, likely given my firm hold on every detail in both my legitimate as well as unsavory businesses. There wasn’t a person working with me who didn’t understand my intolerance for disloyalty of any kind. My punishments were swift and harsh, but only given when necessary.
Tonight was one of those nights.
The small house was unassuming, located in a decent neighborhood where hard laboring families lived. As I stepped out of the back of the Jeep, various odors assaulted my senses, some from over two blocks away. Garlic. Onions. Cigarette smoke. The odors would linger in my system for far too long.
I’d already pulled my weapon from the holster I’d left in the floor of the vehicle. Patrons of glamorous events didn’t like the confrontational aspects of a man hiding a gun. Snickering, I didn’t bother waiting for Bronco, heading straight for the front door. When I walked inside, I was underwhelmed by the surroundings. The asshole had made significant money from being in my employ over the last two years. It would seem the least he could do was purchase a few decent things.
As one of my soldiers eased into a doorway toward the back of the house, I could tell by the blood splattered on his face that he’d already worked the son of a bitch over. I heard Bronco closing the door after entering. He would ensure I didn’t have any interference. When I walked into the kitchen, I was struck by the filth covering almost every surface. For some reason, that riled the fuck out of me.
“Did he give you any trouble?” I asked, glancing from Jackson to Miller, my main soldiers also loyal men.
Jackson laughed as he fisted and flexed his hand several times. “He thinks he’s a tough guy.”
“Interesting,” I said under my breath.
I stared down at the man who’d dared defy not only my patience but my trust as well. Then I took another full minute to study his surroundings. Dirty dishes were piled in the sink, the surface of the oven covered in grease and food particles. My stomach churned as much as my anger continued to rise.
“Emilio,” I said.
His breathing labored, Emilio managed to lift his head. As expected, I was able to notice resignation as well as utter terror in his eyes. He was fully aware his time of reckoning had arrived. “Gabriel.”
It was interesting he’d resorted to calling me by my first name, which was strictly forbidden. Sighing, I inched closer, studying his countertops. “It would seem you’ve been a very bad boy.”
“I’m sorry,” he muttered, his voice strained given the puffiness of his face.
“Sorry. Well, I completely understand the desire to improve a situation; however, if appearances are accurate, you’ve done nothing but wallow in your fucking shit!” I’d raised my voice at the end, something I never did. I was extremely agitated, which went against my usual character.
I closed my eyes, trying to control my breathing. The reason for my rage was two-fold, the second being more concerning.
My desire to shift over the course of the last few weeks had been increasing. It had come to a point that I was no longer certain I’d be able to restrain my beast from surfacing at will. My hunger was to the point I found it difficult to focus. That had never occurred before.
“He has a brand new boat,” Jackson offered.
“And a fancy new car in the garage,” Miller stated.
Laughing, now I was fully able to understand. Emilio was planning on using that boat in an effort to sell the same stockpile of weapons he’d been stupid enough to steal from me. I moved in front of him, placing my foot on the rung of the chair he was tethered to. When I leaned over, he flinched. Well, good. He should be concerned about what I was going to do. “Do you have a family, Emilio?”
“Just a mom and my sister, sir.”
“Sir. Oh, you seem to understand the error of your ways. Excellent.” My head was pounding, the blood running through my veins creating a vibrant pulse on the side of my neck.
“Yes. I just lost my way,” the man whined. “I swear to God it won’t happen again.”
“Yes, you did and you’re right, it won’t.” I backhanded him, then moved away, contemplating what to do as I fisted my hand. A message had to be sent to maintain order. “First of all, we’re confiscating your sexy new toys. Second, you’re going to supply the names of every asshole you promised a sale.”
I could hear his sigh of relief, which pissed me off even more.
Another lesson needed to be learned. While I’d normally handle it myself, the pain already coursing through my body indicated that wasn’t going to happen. “I’m going to allow you to live, Emilio, but there are consequences you will endure. However, if you dare attempt to defy me in any manner again, there will be no leniency. None.” My heart thudded against my chest, a snarl slipping up from my throat before I was able to curtail it.
Emilio stared at me, his expression reflecting gratitude.
Until he locked eyes with mine. I’d allowed my beast to surface, if only for a few seconds.
Then there was nothing but blatant horror crossing the asshole’s face.
I backed away, doing what I could to keep from stumbling. The pain shifting into anguish, I lowered my head. “Provide him with a lesson he won’t forget.”
“You got it, boss,” Jackson said. Only the most trusted individuals in my operation knew of my affliction.
That didn’t include Alex, although I considered him a friend. The less he knew about my lineage the better.
I moved out of the kitchen, Bronco immediately realizing what was wrong with me.
“Where do you want to go?” he asked as he threw open the front door.
“Somewhere secluded.” I could no longer recognize my voice. By the time I pitched myself into the backseat, the agony racing through every cell and muscle was almost unbearable. I hunkered over, barely cognizant that Bronco had already started the engine.
Why the fuck was this happening? I’d been able to control my urges my entire life. The voracious hunger in my system was more intense than ever before. I was losing my sanity as repulsive visions popped into my mind. As I dragged my tongue across my teeth, my gums were already receding, prepared to accept my canines.
I thought about my upcoming trip, the request for me to return home. I hadn’t been to Baton Rouge in years, preferring the vibrant and tough atmosphere of Chicago. However, I’d already heard about some of the issues my father had been facing, certain factions attempting to muscle the family business out of several cities, including New Orleans. That wasn’t going to happen. Maybe a show of force was needed.
Still, given the recent changes in my body as well as the accusations the reporter had made, I would need to return quickly. I sat back, taking several deep breaths, but within a few minutes, my control had almost slipped away.
“Hurry,” I managed, my vision now cloudy.
“Just hang on, boss. We’re almost there.”
I struggled to breathe, my thoughts now centered around feeding. Whatever the fuck was going on was reprehensible. There was no accounting for time when I fell into a lust-filled haze, only my needs weren’t something I’d ever wanted to participate in.
“We’re pulling in,” Bronco huffed. When he jerked the Jeep to a stop, I immediately began to rip off my clothes.
“Stay. Here.” I knew my instructions would be followed. Bronco had been through this twice in the last two months alone.
He said nothing, ignoring me as I stumbled out the door. The raw scents of the forest filtered into my nostrils, easing some of the pain. As I scampered off in the dense woods, there was no way of holding back my wolf.
He was ready to hunt.
He was ready to feed.
And he refused to be denied any longer.