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RESCUE: COWBOY STYLE by REBECCA ZANETTI


Excerpt of Ecstasy Untamed by Pamela Palmer

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Feral Warriors #6
Avon
November 2011
On Sale: October 25, 2011
Featuring: Maxim; Hawke
384 pages
ISBN: 0061794732
EAN: 9780061794735
Paperback
Add to Wish List

Romance Paranormal

Also by Pamela Palmer:

Of Blood and Passion, July 2015
Paperback / e-Book
Wulfe Untamed, February 2014
Paperback / e-Book
A Kiss of Blood, July 2013
Mass Market Paperback
Vampires Gone Wild, February 2013
e-Book
A Love Untamed, January 2013
Paperback / e-Book
A Blood Seduction, June 2012
Paperback / e-Book
Warrior Rising, March 2012
Paperback
A Warrior's Desire, February 2012
Paperback / e-Book
Ecstasy Untamed, November 2011
Paperback
Hunger Untamed, March 2011
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Rapture Untamed, July 2010
Mass Market Paperback
Bitten by Cupid, January 2010
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Passion Untamed, September 2009
Mass Market Paperback
Obsession Untamed, August 2009
Mass Market Paperback
Desire Untamed, July 2009
Mass Market Paperback
Dark Deceiver, June 2008
Paperback
The Dark Gate, April 2007
Paperback

Excerpt of Ecstasy Untamed by Pamela Palmer

Hawke stared at the smiling girl, his mind at once racing and blank, his pulse thrumming a fast, erratic beat. She was a little odd–looking, with dark hair painted bright blue at the ends and one ear entirely enclosed in earrings, yet she was...extraordinary. That smile... Goddess, that smile could slay an army, knocking them all to their knees. Though of average height, her features were small and pert, giving her beauty a pixieish charm. Beautiful. And clearly too young.

He told himself to keep his gaze on her face, but his eyes had a mind of their own. He couldn't help noticing that her thin sweater, the same blue as the ends of her hair, clung to small, sweet curves, and that the sleeves half covered her hands. On slender legs she wore holey jeans. On her feet, badly worn sneakers.

Slowly, he forced his gaze back to her face, to that smile that sent his pulse into a wild flight all over again, then up to eyes that held an odd mixture of awareness, laughter, and shadows. And a wisdom that had him reassessing her age. Perhaps she wasn't as young as she looked.

Relief had his smile widening. "Hi."

"Hello." Her eyes began to sparkle, her voice light and musical with a slight European lilt, as enchanting as her smile.

He passed close to her as he tore his gaze away and went to help Vhyper with the luggage, close enough to catch a whiff of soft female and raspberry sweetness.

She followed. "I'm sorry," she said as Hawke reached in and pulled out a huge suitcase. Vhyper already had four of them sitting on the pavement. "I think he's used to servants."

"We'll break him of that quickly enough," Vhyper muttered darkly.

Hawke grunted. Maxim was a fool if he thought they'd put up with that kind of attitude. Perhaps it was a defense mechanism that would ease once he felt like he was one of them. They could only hope.

Vhyper grabbed three of the huge pieces of luggage and started toward the house. The woman watched him go, her smile gone, her brows dipped in worry.

Hawke felt the need to ease her mind. "Don't worry about Vhyper, or Maxim, for that matter. Newly marked Ferals are rarely at their best. While their bodies come to terms with the animal spirit, they tend to be unpredictable, aggressive, quick–tempered, you name it."

The woman turned to him, wrinkling her nose.

Adorable.

"For how long?"

"The worst of it will pass when he's brought into his animal—his first shift. But for some, it takes several years."

She sighed. "Wonderful."

He grinned at her. "I'm Hawke."

Her expression shifted with delightful speed, awe lacing her gaze and her words. "You're the hawk shifter."

"I am. And who might you be?"

"I'm Faith. I'm with Maxim, though I'm not sure that's something I want to admit at the moment."

With Maxim. He didn't like the sound of that. "His daughter?" he asked hopefully.

She laughed. "I was born in 1899. I just try to look like a teenager."

Not too young at all. Which would be beside the point if she was truly with Maxim. Ferals never, ever poached another Feral's female.

He held out his hand. "It's nice to meet you, Faith."

Her eyes sparkled as she slid her slender hand into his on a rush of soft pleasure. "It's nice to meet you, too."

He found himself suddenly torn between modern manners, which dictated he simply shake her hand, and a surprising desire to raise her knuckles to his lips in the old way. The desire to inhale the scent of her skin, to feel her flesh beneath his lips, was dismayingly powerful. But until he knew which way the wind blew between her and Maxim, he'd be wise to err on the side of caution.

With a twinge of regret, he shook her delicate hand, then released her and turned to pull out another of the suitcases. "Is there a reason you enjoy looking like a teen?" He glanced back to find her brown eyes sparkling like dark gems.

"It's either piercings or tats or I'd look like a poser." She shrugged a delicate shoulder. "The tats are permanent. The piercings aren't." Immortal flesh healed any wound, even those inflicted intentionally.

And piercings she had, at least on the one ear. "A poser to whom?" Genuinely curious, he set the suitcase on the pavement.

Her smile grew, one corner quivering with suppressed laughter, drawing his gaze to that lovely, kissable mouth. "To the street kids."

"What street kids?"

Her expression sobered, the pixie disappearing as if she'd never been. "The lost ones. Mostly girls."

And he realized this was no game to her. In the dark depths of her eyes, a crusader's passion gleamed. And suddenly he understood. "You enter their world. You earn their trust in order to help them."

The look she gave him was a mix of surprise and approval. "They need help, and I have a lot of experience with gaining their trust and finding them that help. Setting them on the right paths."

He nodded, unaccountably moved by the emotion he saw in her face, the deep well of compassion and fire. Many Therians worked among the humans to earn a living. But how many, he wondered, threw the whole of themselves into bettering the short lives of a few mortals? And he felt certain that's exactly what Faith did.

"Humans," he murmured.

She lifted her chin. "Human kids." A note of defensiveness crept into her voice, a small warrior standing before him now. "The most defenseless creatures of all."

"I'm not criticizing you for it, Faith. I'm impressed. Not many Therians would bother."

Dark, intelligent eyes studied him as if searching for the truth of his words. But he'd meant what he'd said and the smile that slowly began to spread across her face told him she'd figured it out. Her smile burrowed inside him like a small ball of heat deep in his chest.

He reached for another of the suitcases as she bent forward to grab a small, worn duffel that looked incongruous beside the large, expensive luggage. Their arms brushed, her sweet scent flowing over him sending a thrill through his system.

She turned to him as she pulled out the duffel, slinging the strap over one shoulder. "In my experience Therians don't often care what happens to humans."

He wanted to argue that point, but in all honesty couldn't. The Ferals and Therians of his acquaintance were careful with humans, protecting human life wherever possible. But dedicating their lives to the betterment of a few individuals? No.

She tilted her head at him, her eyes curious. "Do you have a human mom or dad?"

"My father was a Feral Warrior." He leaned in to pull out the two remaining suitcases. "He was the previous hawk shifter and my mother the Radiant."

Her jaw dropped a little before snapping shut. "You're Therian royalty."

He started, then laughed. "I've never heard it put like that."

"So why the affinity for humans? Are you really as nice a guy as you seem?"

A nice guy. He'd always been that, or tried to be. He liked people, humans and Therians alike, more than many of his brothers. He liked kids, in particular. But nice guys didn't erupt in fits of rage, endangering anyone and everyone around them. And that was something he definitely did these days. Goddess, she shouldn't be out here with him alone. For a few enjoyable minutes he'd forgotten the rage that simmered inside of him.

He blinked. The rage was barely noticeable. When had that happened?

The moment Faith smiled at him.

He set the last two suitcases on the pavement. "I'm not entirely sure what I am any more." As soon as the words were out, he wished he hadn't answered quite so truthfully. It wasn't something he wanted to talk about. "So how did you come to accompany Maxim to Feral House?"

Her eyes lost their sparkle. "I think I'm going to be his mate."

His mate? Hawke tried to mask his dismay, but knew he'd failed when she shrugged.

"We're not exactly a matched pair."

Hawke tried to laugh, but the sound was forced. "Not exactly."

His mate? He'd feared they might be lovers. By the way Maxim had walked off and left her in the car, he'd hoped she was just his servant. Disapproval curled in his gut. Newly marked or not, the man was lacking basic manners if he could treat the woman he'd chosen to spend his immortal life with so carelessly. That Feral didn't deserve this jewel of a woman.

But it didn't matter, did it? They'd clearly chosen one another. Maxim had brought her with him all the way from Poland. Soon, Faith would be just another of his brothers' mates, living at Feral House permanently. Just one more happily ever after for him to watch from afar. Except...he hadn't been attracted to the others. This one he was.

"You've been with Maxim a long time?" he asked as casually as he could manage.

"Not exactly." The sheepish twist of her smile had him lifting a brow. "I met him yesterday."

Hawke frowned. He didn't try to hide his surprise and wasn't sure he could have even if he had. She'd chosen to come all the way to America with the man, to bind herself to him for eternity...the first time she saw him?

"Don't judge." Her words were soft, her expression serious. "The moment we met, we knew we were meant to be together. Sometimes it happens that way."

"Does it?" He shook his head. She was talking about binding herself to a stranger for eternity. Once the mating bond was formed, there was no severing it except by death. And the death of one mate often left the other living a half life. But it wasn't his business. In the current state he was in—his animal hijacking him at every possible juncture—he didn't need to be worrying about anyone but himself.

As Hawke picked up one of the suitcases, Faith reached for another. Hawke shook his head. "I'll get it."

"I can take one of his. I have two empty hands."

Hawke eyed the small duffel on her shoulder, then snorted. "That's all that's yours?"

Faith shrugged, that pixie grin lifting her intriguing mouth. "I travel light."

He reached for the duffel. "Let me have it."

All he earned himself was a good–natured scowl. "I'm not going to walk in empty–handed while you carry all this. I'm not helpless."

Maybe not helpless, but she was as slender and pretty as a lily and he wasn't having her schlepping luggage. "Once you move in, you can carry your own weight. Today, you're a guest." He motioned her to hand it over, pretty certain her soon–to–be mate wouldn't appreciate her carrying her own duffle even if it was microscopic. Which might serve him right. But Hawke wanted to carry her bag. For some reason, it was important to him. "You'll bruise my masculine ego."

She laughed, the sound making the air sparkle between them. "It's a duffel."

He felt those sparkles inside him. Goddess, when was the last time he'd felt so...free? "Give me the bag, Smiley."

"Smiley?" Though her smile remained, something about it changed.

His own dimmed. "I shouldn't have called you that."

"No, it's okay. I just...haven't heard that name since I was a child. One of my human friend's dads used to call me that."

He'd hit a memory, if not a nerve. He was sorry for that. "Give me the duffel and I won't do it again."

As he'd hoped, her grin returned full force, even as she rolled her eyes. "You're relentless."

"You're stubborn."

"Always." With a sigh of mock resignation, she pulled the duffel off her shoulder and handed it to him. "I'll give you the duffel, but..."

Slinging the small bag over his own shoulder, he waited, watching her intently, not sure he was going to be able to pull his gaze away when he had to. "But what?"

Her teeth tugged at her lower lip in a move that was at once shy and charming. "But you don't have to stop calling me Smiley. I like it."

Warm pleasure burst inside him. "Good," he said quietly as their gazes locked in a way they hadn't...quite...before now. He felt himself sinking, felt the ground turning soft and unsteady beneath his feet as he stared into those twinkling brown depths. His pulse accelerated with the strange feeling that he was losing his balance even as he knew his boots were planted firmly on the pavement.

She was the first to look away, confusion clouding her eyes.

What was he doing? She was about to become the new fox shifter's mate. And even if he thought that was insane, he had nothing better to offer her. With a shake of his head, he grabbed three suitcases and started forward, Faith falling into step beside him as they started up the brick walk.

"Did you have a good flight?" he asked, trying to find his footing again.

"It was wonderful." The smile she tossed him was nothing short of brilliant.

The ground beneath his feet tilted precariously. "As good as that?"

"I've never flown before."

He looked at her with surprise. "Never?"

"No. I loved it, rising through the clouds, seeing them floating below." She looked at him with wonder. "I can't imagine what it must be like for you to fly as a bird, the wind in your face, soaring under your own power."

His gut tightened. "It's incredible." And he'd lost the ability. Not since he'd left that spirit trap had he been able to fly and retain his awareness of it. And he missed it bitterly. But that wasn't something he needed to share with her, not now. Not when she was smiling. "I wish I could take you up there with me. If I could upsize like some of the animals can, I'd grow to horse–size and carry you on my back." A fanciful thought for a man facing disaster, but she made him feel...light as air.

An impish gleam leaped into her eyes. "Or shrink me to bird size. Blue–haired Barbie."

He threw back his head and laughed so loud, he startled the birds out of the nearby trees. Tighe stepped through the front door, meeting his gaze with a curious smile and a speculative glance at Faith.

As they started up the steps, Tighe grabbed one of Hawke's suitcases, glancing at Faith. "I'm Tighe."

"The tiger shifter?"

Tighe sketched a quick bow, flashing his dimples. "One and the same."

"I'm Faith. Maxim's soon–to–be mate."

Tighe lifted his chin, as if to nod, but the downward tilt came slowly, his gaze cutting to Hawke, his smile disappearing. "After you, Faith." Tighe motioned Hawke to follow her, but as he drew beside him, Tighe threw him a look of sympathy and frustration. A look that said, You can't catch a break, can you, buddy?

Hawke shrugged. It didn't matter. Even if Faith were as free as the wind, he wasn't. His connection with his animal spirit was a screwed–up mess and he was a danger to anyone in his vicinity.

He followed Faith into the foyer where Maxim stood with Lyon and Paenther. In his white silk turtleneck and black suit jacket, his hair slicked back with some kind of styling cream, Maxim stood with his chest puffed out and chin lifted as if he thought himself too good for the lot of them. The new Feral met Hawke's eye, his mouth tight, his gaze hard as he held out his hand to Faith. She went to him without a backward glance or a moment's hesitation.

Jealousy slid like a blade between Hawke's ribs.

But even as Maxim pulled Faith tight against his side, his gaze remained locked on Hawke, sharp with warning.

Hawke's jaw hardened, anger sparking inside him, ignited by a jealousy he had no right to feel.

Tighe nudged him from behind. "Upstairs. This suitcase is heavy."

Which was a lie, but Hawke took the hint and moved toward the stairs, tearing his gaze from the couple. But even as he climbed, he remained intensely aware of the woman below him, every sense tuned to Faith.

He'd never believed in love at first sight, but infatuation was another matter. And he was suddenly, inescapably, drowning in it.

In the space of a handful of minutes he'd fallen for the woman destined to become another Feral's mate.

Excerpt from Ecstasy Untamed by Pamela Palmer
All rights reserved by publisher and author

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