Argenti agent Darren Sumner spent fifteen years hunting werewolves, but one night of betrayal sent him from his family of assassins into the arms of werewolf Aden Richter. Neither can deny their passion nor their hunger for the other, but as Darren tries to find his place in this new world, he wonders whether desire can be enough.
Rumors of an upcoming power struggle between the packs in Washington, DC, bring the question of Darren's role to the forefront. Is he Aden's partner and a leader of the pack? Or is he nothing more than Aden's boytoy, placed outside his family? Darren struggles to prove himself as the tensions between the packs mount and Aden's ex-lover puts a plan of vengeance into action.
"Aden wouldn't be the first wolf distracted by a pretty face." Enzo stepped closer, seemingly uncaring of Aden's imposing presence. "And what it comes down to is I don't trust you."
Everything about Enzo was threatening, from the sparks of silver in his eyes, to his aggressive stance. A person would have to be blind, deaf, and very stupid to miss each warning sign. Darren had seen countless wolves in this stance, prepared to turn themselves over to their instincts in order to protect themselves, their pack, and their ground. Aden was tense, too. If he had been shifted, he would be showing his teeth.
"Sounds like a personal problem to me. And since I'm not going anywhere, I think you better just get over it."
He wasn't sure if Enzo had been about ready to move or not. He didn't see it coming, and he'd been ready for it. But in the blink of an eye, Gail was standing next to Enzo, her weathered hand grasping his wrist, as if holding him back from striking Darren.
"Don't be stupid," she said to him, her voice even. She swiveled her black eyes toward Darren with the same calculating intelligence. "Personal problems are just as valid as pack problems, cub. Or do you think you're too good to be a part of this pack?"
Darren's eyes flicked over to Enzo, then back to Gail. "Do not call me cub. Darren works just fine."
"You're a cub until you've proven otherwise," Gail shot back.
And that was really the crux of the matter. Darren didn't think they were angry because he was a normal human. There was no rule that said wolves couldn't fuck humans, or even have relationships with them. It was rare, but not verboten. He didn't even think they were angry he was a hunter. But he did hold a place of honor in the pack. Aden had made it very clear that Darren was not just some plaything he brought home with him when he was bored. Darren had the ear of the leader of the pack.
"Do you want to challenge me?" Darren asked Enzo. "Is that why you're here?"
"I want you gone," he ground out. "If kicking your ass is what it takes, so be it."
"What if you don't kick my ass? Will that be an end to all this ridiculousness?"
Gail pressed her palm to Enzo's chest and pushed him back. To Darren, she said, "This isn't one of your Argenti games. You fight for your place within the pack. That place needs to be earned."
Her unspoken and not on your back made Aden bristle, but he remained still, waiting for Darren's response.
Darren could only smile at Gail's blithe dismissal of Argenti. Did she really think he had only been playing a game? Did she think he was only playing now? The look on her face, and the one in Enzo's eyes, told him that was exactly what they thought. His body was already tensing, automatically preparing for the confrontation, each second of his training, and each honed instinct, ready to take over.
"I'll fight Enzo. I'll fight anybody in this room who wants to try me."
"Not here, you won't." Aden finally stepped forward. "The ring at the warehouse. Half an hour."
"The ring?" Enzo snarled. "It's all a bit civilized, isn't it, Aden?"
"If he was a wolf, you'd let them fight wherever they wanted," Domingo said.
"If Darren was a wolf, there wouldn't be a fight at all," Aden snapped.
"If that's where Aden wants us to fight, then I'm not going to fight anywhere else," Darren said.
"Of course not," Enzo sneered. He backed off Gail's touch, though the distance didn't make him any less menacing. "Fine. Half an hour in the ring. But I'm not going easy on you just because you're Aden's latest plaything."
"That's fine. And I won't think less of you if you come to your senses and realize this really isn't a fight you want to have."
Enzo whirled on his heel and marched for the door, his girlfriend and Domingo on his heels. Gail lingered behind, her shrewd gaze jumping from Aden to Darren and back to Aden again.
"You knew this was coming," she said to him.
He didn't relax. "I know."
"Are you ready for him to lose?"
"That depends. Are you ready for him to win?"