A mate bond is stronger than any other force in the world.
At least, that’s what they say.
But what Titus and I have is… unique. Especially as, even though we’d been reborn so many times, the dragon has never had a mate. No one knows what to expect.
Outside of that, everything with Damen, Julian, and Miles is not all fun and games. Things are different now, and while that’s natural, I’m not entirely sure I’m ready to make that next level of commitment.
However, we might not have a choice.
When Titus’s investigation ramps up, becoming entangled with my debut case, I’ve run out of all other options. The reality is, my usual methods of coping won’t work anymore. But to live is to grow, and to change.
The farther I walked, the fewer homes I saw. The woods thickened. Eventually, the sidewalk ended and street lamps vanished. At this point, I could only see the occasional mailbox at the end of a dirt driveway for homes that were far back off the road.
My map application was telling me that I was in the right place, but could there really be a meeting out here in this remote location? It didn’t seem likely.
Unless, Dr. Stephens had faked his background check somehow. It was entirely possible he had lured me out here to murder me.
I was about to turn back when the sound of an approaching motorcycle startled me from my thoughts. Suddenly, it became vital for me to remain unseen. But of course, I wasn’t so lucky. My heart raced as the motorcycle pulled to a halt behind me.
“Hey you,” a man called. His tone was commanding, though not unkind. But I’d already almost reached my stress limit for the day and the threat of confrontation froze me with terror.
I peeked over my shoulder, unsure of what to do. My already racing heart accelerated as my vision took in the newcomer. The beginning of every horror movie I’d ever watched flashed through my mind.
It was hard not to notice his imposing stature. But as he removed his helmet and shook his head, it was even more impossible to not be entranced by his long, silky locks as they fell gently around his chiseled face.
His movements mesmerized me, and I couldn’t seem to pull my gaze away as he used a glove-covered hand to slowly flip his hair back over his shoulder. He was wearing a torn, plaid shirt, extremely faded jeans, and a few days’ worth of stubble, and the look worked for him.
I was an idiot, admiring the person who was probably going to kill me. Then again, it was impossible not to watch him. He was so gorgeous that I could almost hear a choir of angels harmonizing in the background. His physique was molded from God himself. His face was perfect seduction. I wanted nothing more than to explore every inch of his smooth, olive skin.
I wasn’t stupid. No one that beautiful had good intentions. This was clearly a trap. Much as it normally was in the way of natural selection. This must be how he distracted his victims: dazzling them with his looks. I was certain, because despite all the above, something about this guy screamed danger.
There was something off about him. This was as certain as coffee was the greatest beverage known to mankind.
“Do you need any help? This isn’t the greatest place for a beautiful young woman like yourself to be wandering around alone.” His large green eyes twinkled as he grinned at me, showing off his perfect teeth and adorable dimples. Despite his friendly words, my breath caught. A familiar warning rang in the back of my mind.
Yes, unless I did something drastic, I probably would end up dead. I couldn’t let a lumberjack kill me. That would just be ridiculous.
“I’m all right, but thank you,” I somehow managed to say. I was barely able to look at him anymore. I’d had just about enough of strangers for the day, and I hadn’t even made it to my destination. There was no choice but to move forward; I couldn’t turn back, now that he was there.
Maybe if I ignored him, he’d go away.
“Why are you out here?” His deep, melodious voice drifted after me like a caress. I took the risk to glance back again and almost fell to the gravel.
He had gotten off of his bike and was strolling after me as he pushed it beside him.
…Was this for real?
I could probably outrun him, if I had to. I was fast. Despite his attractiveness, he didn’t look well off. I doubted that he’d be stupid enough to leave the expensive-looking bike behind just to chase me.
There was also the possibility that I was wrong. Perhaps he was a good Samaritan—albeit a persistent one. If he was going to kidnap me, wouldn’t he have done so already?
I slowed down, giving him a wary look. He couldn’t be planning on following me the whole way, could he?
He grinned, realizing that he had regained my attention. “I’m just curious. We don’t get strangers in this part of town. There’s nothing out this way except private residences and trees.”
My anxiety rose as I fought to maintain composure. There wasn’t a reason for him to smile during this discussion. He was totally preying on me. And his words, wasn’t that the same as him saying that no one would ever find my mutilated body?
I had to do something. I discreetly searched my purse until I held the tiny can of pepper spray. I was ready. If this guy tried anything—if he even tried to touch me—he would never know what hit him.
“You didn’t answer, angel. Where are you headed?” He continued to trail after me, managing to become more persistent with every passing moment. “I can walk you there, just to make sure you’re safe.”
I stopped walking entirely—I certainly couldn’t show up at Damen’s with this interloper in tow. “I’m seriously fine.” I tried to reassure him in my nicest voice. To show no fear. “You don’t need to bother with me. Besides, I don’t even know who you are.”
“It’s not a bother at all.” He flashed another blinding smile. “And I guess I should introduce myself. It’s a good thing to be wary of strangers. My name is Titus Ducharme. You might have heard of me; I own Jinshu Security.”
Never heard of it. I pursed my lips, listening to him continue on. If anything, I was even more suspicious now. I highly doubted that this man was the owner of anything resembling a respectable corporation. He was far too young and too wild.
Titus—if that was his real name—didn’t seem to notice. “I’m perfectly legit. You can ask my assistant. But I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when I see a young woman asking questions. You have a good head on your shoulders, it would be remiss of me to not see you to your destination.”
I raised a brow skeptically, unable to come up with a response. He thought I was smart because I asked a question? It almost sounded as though he was making fun of me.
“Let me take a guess and say that you are headed…” He glanced up and pointed in the direction that I had been walking when he pulled up. “…that way. What a coincidence! I’m going that way as well, so this works perfectly. I’ll escort you.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond. He was being so stubborn. It was time to take some action.
He had at least a foot-and-a-half on me and over a hundred pounds of muscle. I had no chance in hand-to-hand combat. There was only one thing for a woman like me to do in this situation.
Yet, despite my fear, I felt guilty. “Titus—”
He grinned warmly as I said his name, as if he loved hearing the sound. The action made me feel even worse for what I was about to do.
I’d give him one more chance.
“I’m seriously fine.” I leveled my most severe glare in his direction, in case he was just a persistent dude with no clue. “You can leave now, please.”
He sighed as he rubbed the back of his head, clearly uncomfortable. “I don’t think that you understand. These streets…I can’t just leave you here alone. I really should—”
Titus didn’t see it coming. The second he refused to leave, I pulled out the weapon and aimed the pepper spray right at his eyes.
Once I had downed the attractive stalker, I ignored his screaming and took off like a bat out of hell.
I had only this chance. According to the maps, I was close to my destination. Between my speed and Titus’s temporary incapacitation, hopefully he wouldn’t catch up to me before I reached safety.
Thank you, Lyla Oweds and Lola’s Blog Tours
About the author
Lyla Oweds is a paranormal romance author who resides in the beautiful Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania. She grew up near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and has a deep appreciation for the paranormal, hauntings, and Edgar Allan Poe. As such, she loves all things fantasy, mystery, crime, and horror.
She is the author of the Paranormal Reverse Harem series, The Grimm Cases and related novellas. She has also published the first book of Gloria Protean’s story, The Red Trilogy. You can find out more about her current and upcoming works at her website, http://lylaoweds.com.
When not reading, writing, or working as a web programmer, Lyla can be found doing adult-y things such as being a mom, decorating the house, and baking. She also frequently enjoys makeup videos, massages, wine, and coffee.
Other books in the series
Home (The Grimm Cases prequel novella): https://books2read.com/grimm-home
Origins (The Grimm Cases #1): https://books2read.com/grimm-origins
Ghost (The Grimm Cases #2): https://books2read.com/grimm-ghost
Blood (The Grimm Cases #3): https://books2read.com/grimm-blood
Hidden (The Grimm Cases #4): https://books2read.com/grimm-hidden
Balance (The Grimm Cases #5): https://books2read.com/grimm-balance/
Change (The Grimm Cases #6): http://books2read.com/grimm-change
Get the first 3 books and the novella Home as a box set!
Mu is the box set collection which combines books 1-3 as well as the novella Home in one handy box set. You can buy it here: https://books2read.com/grimm-mu