Enforcer Knossis Raund doesn’t know why Fate has forsaken him. He meets his mate, only to discover she’s a happily married woman in a great marriage with several kids. Refusing to bring heartbreak to the family, Knossis seeks out the one thing he can think of that will allow him to still have a sex life—a vampire’s bite.
As a vampire wrangler, Chissom Minscote is confident in his abilities. He knows Knossis expects to be bitten by a female vampire. Except, none are available, and the handsome shifter is desperate to feel…something. Chissom is happy to help.
Hank Everly is a human who’s been working as a donor for over ten years. He loves the thrill of the bite, but he knows never to get attached. When Chissom asks Hank to help him show a lonely and heartbroken shifter a relaxing evening, he’s happy to help the handsome pair.
An unexpected attack, a myriad of injuries, and the intervention of a Horseman of the Apocalypse bring the trio to a crossroads—accept the bond of Famine so they can bring their attackers to justice or die. Can the group learn to care for and trust each other as they unweave the twisting plot against them?
Enforcer Knossis Raund stared at the picture, sadness twisting his gut. Bowing his head, he closed his eyes for a few seconds, just breathing. Knossis lifted his head and focused once more on the photo.
Lifting a trembling hand, Knossis tapped his phone, bringing up a row of icons at the top. He hit the garbage can, deleting the picture. Then he exited the gallery and cleared his trash for good measure.
Knossis tossed his phone onto his desk, then leaned back in his chair. He sighed deeply, resting his head against the back. As he stared at the ceiling, he sent soothing thoughts to the whining fox in his mind.
“Hey, Knoss. You okay?”
Turning his head, Knossis eyed Bristol Luderm, their fox skulk’s new beta. After Cain had denied Alpha Ferris’s order—Ferris also happened to be Cain’s father—to wed a woman instead of bonding with his mate, the nearby vampire coven had helped Cain report Ferris’s actions to the Shifter Council. The council had sent an investigator, who’d decided Ferris was abusing his authority, and he’d been removed as alpha.
Their skulk had rallied around their beta, Wilfred, and had accepted him as alpha. That had left the beta position open because Knossis had declined it. He preferred being the head enforcer and didn’t want the responsibility of leading.
Blinking, Knossis forced himself to answer truthfully, since their new beta would be able to scent a lie, anyway. “I met my mate.” Upon seeing Bristol begin to grin, Knossis grimaced and shook his head. “I can’t have her. She’s already taken.”
Bristol’s eyes widened, and his lips parted, betraying his shock as much as his scent did. Striding into the room, he went straight to the bar. He glanced Knossis’s way as he grabbed the whiskey decanter and two crystal tumblers. Then Bristol settled in a cushioned chair in the lounge area of the office.
“Sit,” Bristol ordered, using the tip of the decanter to point at a chair next to his own. “Now.”
Knossis pushed from his seat and obeyed, moving around the room. Unable to help himself, he flopped onto the chair Bristol had indicated while heaving a big sigh. When Bristol handed him a tumbler of whiskey, he knocked it back in one go.
Bristol immediately leaned forward and refilled it.
Sighing again, Knossis rested the tumbler against his temple and closed his eyes.
“So, talk to me, Knoss,” Bristol urged. “Where and when did you meet her, and what kind of relationship is she in?”
Cracking his eyelids back open, Knossis told his beta, “I met her in passing three months ago.”
Bristol’s brows lifted a smidge, and his lips tightened. “And?”
Knossis leaned forward. Resting his forearms on his thighs, he cradled his tumbler between his palms. He licked his lips before starting from the beginning.
“I went to Barney’s to rent a horse and take a trail ride,” Knossis explained slowly, referring to a skulk-owned barn that leased horses and offered lessons. “A woman was there watching her daughter, who was taking a lesson. I realized she was my mate as soon as I walked into the barn.” Smiling sadly, Knossis whispered, “Her divine scent stood out over all the smells of horse, shavings, manure, and leather.”
“I’ve been told that a mate’s scent is beyond anything we’ve ever enjoyed before,” Bristol whispered, his tone encouraging. “I’m assuming it’s not due to her having a kid that’s stopping you.”
Waving to his huge frame—Knossis knew his massive, six-foot-four body could be intimidating—he explained, “I said hello, and she was afraid of me. I could smell it.” His mass was a good thing for an enforcer, but it made approaching a diminutive, five-foot-four-inch woman tough. “I smiled, was friendly, asked about her kid, talked about the riding facility and how Barney is a friend. Stuff like that.” Recalling the memory, Knossis had to smile. He’d been so damn excited. “She was just beginning to relax when her husband arrived to pick up her and their daughter.”
“Ouch,” Bristol muttered, wincing in sympathy.
Knossis nodded before taking a sip of his whiskey. “You know how people say that Fate brings mates together when they need each other?”
Bristol grunted, tipping his chin. “I’ve heard that.”
Clearing his throat, Knossis admitted, “At first, I thought Fate was bringing me into her life to save her from an abusive husband.” He met Bristol’s gaze. “That’s not the case.”
Frowning, Bristol picked up the decanter and refilled Knossis’s glass.
Knossis wasn’t even certain when he’d drained it, and he accepted the liquor gratefully. “I discreetly asked Barney for their information, so I could look into them.” After taking another sip, Knossis admitted, “Then I spied on them whenever I safely could.” Sadness flooded him as he recalled the things he’d seen. His voice came out strained as he admitted, “He’s a great husband, a stable provider, and a fantastic father.” Knossis met Bristol’s gaze and stated, “I have no idea why Fate would show me a mate that it would be wrong to try to claim. I can’t break up that happy family just because Fate decided she’s mine. It would be wrong.”
Bristol stayed quiet for several long minutes, staring into his own tumbler of whiskey. Finally lifting his gaze, he murmured, “And you’re certain they’re a good match?”
Blushing, Knossis nodded. “They live on a small farm.” Grimacing, he added, “I could get pretty damn close…including looking in their bedroom window.”
Wincing, Bristol whispered, “I bet watching any activity in the bedroom required a hell of a lot of self-control.”
Knossis blew out a harsh breath. “I just about leaped through the window,” he admitted, rubbing the back of his neck. “That was when I realized I had to stop visiting for a while and think.”
“And how long ago was that again?” Bristol asked softly, frowning.