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Lora Leigh | Exclusive Excerpt DANE'S MARK


Dane's Mark
Lora Leigh

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Novel of the Breeds #33

February 2024
On Sale: February 6, 2024
Featuring: Katy Chavos
288 pages
ISBN: 0593098773
EAN: 9780593098776
Kindle: B0CHHY73ZP
Hardcover / e-Book
Add to Wish List

Also by Lora Leigh:
Play Dirty, April 2024
Dane's Mark, February 2024
In Isabeau's Eyes, April 2023
Shameless, August 2022

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Katy Chavos refilled coffee cups and made her way around the small diner in Broken Butte, New Mexico, heading for that last table at the far corner, placed before two plate glass windows that looked out on the lower end of the main street and the sheriff’s office.

There were rumors that one of the occupants took that table for the sole purpose of catching sight of the sheriff’s wife. But what man would do that while flirting with only her and no one else consistently for three years?

Over the years, he’d nearly kissed her several times and she’d known that had been his intention before he’d pulled back from her. He usually came in during the late shifts she worked and spent several hours talking to her. His gaze always seemed to caress her, and he’d touch her hand, her arm. But he always ended up pulling back then as well.

Dane Vanderale sat facing the window and his bodyguard, Ryan Desalvo, or Rhys, as Dane often called him, sat with his back to it, and the sheriff’s office. Which could be one of the reasons the gossip was so nasty about why he always took the same booth: so he could watch the sheriff’s office and hopefully glimpse the woman it was said he was really interested in.

That day, despite the busyness of the diner, the chatter wasn’t as excessive as normal, allowing Katy to enjoy the dark rasp of Dane’s voice as he spoke. That voice haunted her dreams. As did the rest of him.

Over six feet tall and broad-shouldered. His skin was a golden bronze from the sun that contrasted with the thick, overly long length of his dark blond hair as it lay along his neck.

He sat with his powerful forearms on the table, the fingers of one hand holding his coffee cup, the sleeves of the desert tan shirt he wore folded to just below his elbows.

He didn’t look like the heir to multinational business Vanderale Industries, which owned either controlling interest in, or near controlling interest in, weapons manufacturing, military machines and vehicles built for rough terrain for law enforcement as well as the military.

But it was the Breeds they were most known for providing advanced vehicles and weapons to. The head of the company, Leo Vanderale, Dane’s father, was said to take almost a paternal interest in the success of the Feline Breed community, Sanctuary, and the Lion Breed leader Callan Lyons and his family. Callan and his wife, Merinus, had been the first to tell the world of the Breeds nearly twenty years before. Callan was still a driving force in Breed rights and their fight for survival.

More than once it had been mentioned that Leo Vanderale’s and Callan Lyons’s physical looks were similar enough that they could be related, but that was said about several other powerful figures as well. The Vanderales weren’t Breeds, but like those other powerful families, they backed the Breeds fully.

She’d met Dane and Ryan just after turning eighteen. She remembered the first evening he came into the diner, his gaze meeting hers and sending her senses flooding with excitement and sensations she didn’t understand. Then he’d asked her how old she was.

How many times had she wished she’d lied to him?

She was twenty-one now; surely whatever male sense of decorum had stayed his intent to touch her then wouldn’t apply now.

“We need to be heading out soon,” Rhys mentioned, the words barely reaching Katy as she refilled coffee cups several tables away.

“In a moment,” Dane answered, his voice sounding a bit distracted.

“Come on, Dane. Katy’s just going to invite you to dinner at her place again, you’re going to refuse and then you’ll get pissed because it hurts her. I don’t want to deal with it today,” Ryan growled back at him, and though his voice was low, Katy heard him.

She paused, keeping her head down as Mrs. Clyde, an elderly retired teacher, muttered something about dessert.

“She’ll stop soon.” Dane didn’t sound concerned.

“She’s certain she’s in love with you,” he seemed to point out. “She’s a child,” Dane scoffed, his tone touched with disgust. “She has no hope of fitting into my world . . .”

Her head came up quickly, her gaze turning to the corner and meeting Ryan’s as he lifted his head as though sensing her regard.

Pride and anger filled her, her heart shattering in her chest. Katy knew she’d faced condemnation in the past, but nothing had ever hurt like this.

She had no hope of fitting into his world? God help her, she’d never thought that far. She’d only dreamed of feeling the warmth of him against her, his kiss, his touch. She hadn’t given a damn about his world or knowing anything about it.

Evidently, she wasn’t worthy to even share that much with him, though. What had ever made her believe he was different from everyone else in her life?

She bypassed the next table and stepped to Dane’s as his head turned to her almost warily. Those green eyes, bisected with just a hint of amber, held regret as he stared up at her. As though he sensed the fact that she’d heard the cruel words.

Oh yes, I heard you, she wanted to assure him. Every. Single. Word. Dry-eyed, fighting just to breathe, to hold in the pieces of her heart trying to dig their way out of her chest, she filled their cups. Her hand was shaking, so a bit spilled here and there, and she couldn’t bring herself to care. A cry lay trapped in her throat, fighting to escape. And she couldn’t allow that.

“May I get you something else?” she asked with almost formal politeness.

“Katy . . . dammit.” There was a growl in his voice that had the potential to do the Breeds proud as he wiped his hand over his face and looked at Rhys as though demanding he fix it.

“Mr. Desalvo?” It was almost impossible to meet the compassion in his blue eyes.

“No, thank you, Katy,” he said gently before looking at his cup and shaking his head.

“Very well.” She pulled their bill from the gaily printed apron she wore and placed it on the table, light as air. “We hope you return soon.”

Turning on her heel, Katy walked away, her head held high, shoulders straight.

She was breaking apart inside and didn’t know how to stop it, how to hold on to her sense of decorum and pride long enough to get out of there.

Placing the coffeepot on the burner behind the diner’s front counter, she stepped through the employees only entrance and moved to the kitchen, where the owner, Costas Santiago, and his wife, Sylvia, worked to get the orders together.

“Katy?” Sylvia looked up from a salad she was preparing, her gaze instantly concerned.

“I’m not feeling well,” Katy whispered, pressing her hand to her stomach as she felt it pitching with the effect of the pain roiling through her. “Can I just hang back here for a minute?”

“Of course, dear.” Sylvia placed the finished salad in the opening between the kitchen and waitresses station. “Go lie down in the office.”

She shook her head. “I’ll be okay in a minute,” she said faintly.

From the mirror at the side of the kitchen service opening she could see the dining area and checkout. She watched, miserably aware that she was hiding like a coward as Rhys checked out and glanced through the window in concern, as though he knew she was watching.

He paid for their meal, then moved behind Dane to the exit.

Lowering her head, she gave them time to reach their vehicle and drive away before returning to the dining area and once again feeling the terrible weight of aloneness she’d felt for the past few years threatening to engulf her.

Tracking the car Dane and Rhys were in, she watched as they pulled into the parking lot of the sheriff’s department and entered the building. Sheriff Jacobs and his wife, Harmony, had arrived as well. Their cars sat in their designated area.

She still couldn’t imagine Dane pining after a married woman from the diner window, but evidently, neither did he come to the diner for the twenty-one-year-old misfit who had loved him since she was eighteen.

As she cleared the table and lifted Rhys’s cup and saucer, four folded hundred-dollar bills stared back at her. Their normal tip was usually half that, and most often left by Rhys rather than Dane.

She’d kept the other tips because each time she returned them, Dane would seem almost hurt by it. He’d urge her to put it toward the college classes she was taking, or to buy a pretty dress So she’d kept them, thinking he left them because he cared.

She was such a fool.

Picking up the bills, she strode to the checkout, found an envelope and hurriedly scribbled a note before shoving it and the bills inside and sealing it. Promising the other waitresses she’d quickly return, she left the diner and all but ran the short distance to the sheriff’s office.

Making certain Dane and Rhys weren’t in the reception area, she entered, left the envelope with Dane’s name on it with Lennie at the front desk and turned and left. She didn’t want the obvious charity. Pity money, she thought. She’d been so pathetic, unable to hide how she felt for him and so obviously a complete failure where he was concerned.

And why shouldn’t he believe she could never fit in his world? She didn’t know how to wear makeup. She didn’t fix her long, heavy fall of hair or dress in anything but her waitress uniform.

She didn’t do anything but work. For what?

For the house she rented on the edge of town? The yard was mostly dirt and desert sand, the wood aged and paint peeling. It was drafty, too cold at night sometimes and too warm through the day. It was just a shack and little more. A place to sleep, to escape to, where she didn’t feel judged. She just felt an aloneness that weighed at her soul instead. Not loneliness. Loneliness was curable. But aloneness, that sense of having no one. That was far different, and she’d found no way to cure that.

 

Excerpted from Dane's Mark by Lora Leigh Copyright © 2024 by Lora Leigh. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. 

DANE'S MARK by Lora Leigh

Novel of the Breeds #33

Dane's Mark

A new kind of Breed is faced with what happens when destiny and desire collide in the latest novel in the highly charged series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh.

A decade ago Katy Chavos was a proud misfit who had her heart broken, crushed by a man who drew her close with one breath and pulled away the next. He left a mark she’s done everything in her power to erase. But when Katy’s job brings her back to the hometown she couldn’t wait to escape, seeing Dane again awakens something inside her that won’t be tamed....

Dane Vanderale isn’t like other Breeds. As a hybrid he’s stronger, more primal, and more determined to hide it. He’s also certain that Katy is not his mate—not that that stops him from wanting her with every part of his soul. He knows he hurt her deeply and he intends to make things right, but she is dead set on keeping him at arm’s length.

Despite their painful history, Katy can’t deny the intense attraction she still feels for Dane. And before long, it will be impossible for either to deny the truth that has been in front of them all along....

Romance Paranormal [Berkley, On Sale: February 6, 2024, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780593098776 / eISBN: 9780593098790]

Can they survive the collision of destiny and love?

Buy DANE'S MARKAmazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Powell's Books | Books-A-Million | Indie BookShops | Ripped Bodice | Walmart.com | Target.com | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Lora Leigh

Lora Leigh

Lora Leigh dreams in bright, vivid images of the characters’ intent on taking over her writing life, and fights a constant battle to put them on the hard drive of her computer before they can disappear as fast as they appeared. Lora’s family and her writing life coexist, if not in harmony, in relative peace with each other. Surrounded by a menagerie of pets, friends, and a son who keeps her quick wit engaged, Lora finds her life filled with joys, aided by her fans whose hearts remind her daily why she writes.

World of the Lupi | Breeds | Nauti Girls | Bound Hearts | Brute Force | Moving Violations

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