We are thrilled to be participating in Forever Romance’s Halloween Blog Hop. Stop by the following blogs to read the story in its entirety. We are pleased to be sharing with you part 5 of the story from Rebecca Zanetti. Make sure to enter the giveaways below! Enjoy and Happy Halloween!!!!
Part one: Dear Author
Part two: Under the Covers Book Blog
Part three: Paranormal Cravings Reviews
Part four: Paranormal Book Club
Part five: Shh! Mom’s Reading
#ForeverFrightNight #Halloweek PART FIVE by Rebecca Zanetti
At the words, Andrew charged, hitting Zach mid-center and throwing them both out the window. Glass shattered. Zach wrapped around Willa, who was still in his arms, making sure to land on his feet and facing the threat.
Partygoers screamed and scattered in every direction. Apparently they’d spilled out of the house into the backyard, which was decorated like a cemetery.
Andrew hit the ground hard and rolled.
Without missing a hitch, Zach swung Willa down and planted her behind him just as Andrew regained his feet. “You bastard. You killed Daniel,” Zach repeated, his claws elongating.
“Killed? No. But he did make me bleed,” came a low voice from the surrounding forest. Daniel Parker stalked around a monstrous tree, easily tossing pieces of candy corn from one hand to the other. As he neared, he dropped the candy onto the wet leaves, their bright color a bizarre contrast to the dead earth.
A gasp rose from the partygoers, and then pure silence reigned. Not even a breath broke the preternatural stillness.
Zach’s head jerked, and his gut clenched. “Daniel.” Like an old movie film, flashes of memories screened through Zach’s brain of a moon-filled night, the scent of Daniel’s blood, and Willa’s cries as Zach had carried her through the forest to save her brother. To give him blood.
He’d forgotten. Once in human form, he’d forgotten the entire night.
Andrew paled and backed away from Willa, hitting a fake tombstone. His wings spread from his shoulders, somehow quaking.
Zach turned toward Willa, who had suddenly straightened. The stench of fear no longer cascaded from her, and her smile rivaled the moon. “Why didn’t you tell me?” Zach asked through rapidly descending fangs.
She swallowed. “I, ah, well. You know.”
Actually, he didn’t. His system remained on high alert, even though the surrounding people had gone quiet. Non-moving. Anger tickled the base of Zach’s neck, and he narrowed his focus. “We saved your brother, and you didn’t tell me.”
She blushed and clasped her hands together. “I just needed to keep everyone in the dark until Daniel healed enough to take his place as ruler.”
Zach growled low, his attention solely on the woman who’d held his heart for decades. “Yet you could’ve told me.” His growling voice sounded like he’d just swallowed shards of glass.
Willa shivered, and her eyes widened. “You had to really grieve, Zach. The smell of sadness is all around you, and Andrew would’ve noticed otherwise.”
Maybe. Maybe not. Zach tensed as Andrew pushed off the tombstone.
Andrew half bowed to Daniel. “It was an accident. I didn’t mean to cut you,” Andrew said, his voice ringing through the night.
Daniel sighed. With short brown hair and sizzling bourbon-colored eyes, he was the male version of Willa—except bigger. He stood well over a foot taller than his twin sister. “Dude. To survive, I had to bite my sister. My sister.” Clucking his tongue, sounding congenial and smelling pissed, the new ralki stalked closer to his enemy. “And when you sliced me open, it wasn’t an accident.”
Zach edged to the left, planting himself between Willa and the two men. She tried to shove him aside, but he held firm.
Without seeming to move, Daniel leaped forward and casually swiped sharp claws across Andrew’s neck.
Andrew’s eyes widened, and then his head rolled down his chest to splat at his feet.
Zach shook his head and fought his natural form. When death and threat loomed near, his body pulsed with the need to change. To become more, to taste the blood now scenting the air. Instead, he calmed himself and turned his head enough to catch Willa’s attention. “I didn’t know your people had claws.” Fangs, sure. But claws?
“We do,” she said, pricking hers into his back. “Now move out of my way.”
Pain lanced across his spine, and the world narrowed. Holding his anger at bay, he turned so she was at his side, facing her brother.
Daniel grinned and completely ignored Andrew’s headless corpse as it slid down the tombstone. “You sure you don’t want to lead, Willa?”
“Hell no,” the stunning brunette muttered with a full-bodied shudder.
Daniel nodded. “I don’t exactly blame you.” He focused on Zach and gave a courtly bow. “You, my friend, saved my life and the future of my people. Anything in my power to give is yours. Land, money, position—you name it, and it’s yours.”
At the promise, something in Zach calmed. He was tired of fighting his nature, and he was currently enjoying being pissed. So when he smiled, he allowed his fangs to gleam bright in the moonlight.
A woman gasped at the rear of the crowd and people began to shuffle away.
Zach nodded to Daniel. “I accept your offer,” he rumbled.
Delight flashed across Daniel’s chiseled face. “Excellent. What is it you want?”
Zach allowed the power of his ancestors to rumble in his voice. “Your sister.”
Willa’s lungs compressed. She jerked her head toward her best friend and the man she’d loved since the first time he’d held her hand. “Excuse me?” she asked with as much haughtiness as possible.
Daniel, an extremely intelligent man, took a step back from her.
Zach glanced down, all male arrogance and determination. The look was new and skittered nerves across her abdomen. “The words were clear, as was the claim.”
Her mouth gaped open, and she glanced from his rugged face to her brother’s amused one. “Well?” she asked.
Daniel frowned and his lips twitched. “Well, I did promise.”
She hissed out air, and steam actually rose. “You can’t promise me like I’m some sort of bargaining chip.”
Daniel winced. “Well actually, in the ways of our people, I kinda can.”
Heat blasted through her. “Well, in the ways of our people, if I rip off your head, then I rule.”
“True.” Daniel blanched. “I do like my head on my shoulders.” He sighed. “Zach? Maybe you can fix this situation so I keep my head? I mean, we are friends.”
Willa gave her brother a look that should’ve shriveled every masculine part he owned. The bastard was enjoying the moment.
Then, as if on cue, the crowd started to chant again. “Blending, blending, blending.” A union of Willa’s people and Zach’s would unite more than just one set of clans. If they formed a strong front, it’d unite all supernatural beings.
Zach ignored them and turned to face her fully. Heat from him swarmed around her, providing comfort and an odd warning. “Here’s the deal. I’m done waffling and worrying that we don’t mesh. I’m a werewolf, you’re a damn ralki, and we belong together. I’ve courted you, I’ve befriended you, and now I’m fucking claiming you.”
She blinked, and fire roared through her to pool in her abdomen. Claiming? That was the most words she’d ever heard the deadly man say at one time. Even so, she knew him, and he meant every word. She swallowed, wanting nothing more than to jump into his arms and snuggle deep. But a woman did have pride. “Zach,” she said.
He studied her for a moment and then finally gave a short nod. “Fair enough.” He shrugged out of the ripped leather jacket, revealing smooth, strong muscle. As graceful as any jungle cat, he dropped to one knee. “I love you. Your sense of humor, your spirit, even your weird obsession for creating the perfect salad dressing. Marry me, mate me, and you will never fear again.”
Truth be told, not much scared her, anyway. But there was definitely something sexy about a man who’d storm hell for a mate. For so long, she’d dreamed they’d somehow get past the differences in their species and come together. She smiled and accepted the destiny she’d wanted. “I love you, too. Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”
Zach stood and took her hand in his big one before glancing around the quieted group of real predators. Then he looked down at her, his silver eyes darkening with promise. “I do.”