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SHADOW RISING
by Kendra Leigh Castle

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

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Ariane shook her head gently, knowing this was one thing Damien wouldn’t understand. “We are Watchers, Damien. All my life, I’ve never been allowed to make a difference. This time, this one time, it’s worth it to me to try.”

“Is that why you saved me?” Damien asked. “Wanting to make a difference?”

She shrugged, uncomfortable with his shift from sarcasm to genuine interest. “I guess. And also . . .”

“Yes?”

“I may have liked the idea of having you in my debt.” She couldn’t help the smile that rose to her lips, and it broadened when Damien’s slow, Cheshire cat grin appeared. She doubted he smiled like that often, when it reached his eyes and warmed them. Ariane felt a little like melting into a puddle right there on the comforter.

“I’ll tell you what…since I am, in fact, glad to still be in possession of my sorry hide, I’ll give you something for your trouble.”

She looked at him warily. “You can keep that to yourself.”

This time he laughed, a full, rich sound that seemed to roll up from deep in his chest. Ariane found herself laughing with him despite herself. He had a way about him when his guard went down, and she found herself wishing he did it more often. Even when Damien’s laughter subsided, his eyes stayed warm.

“You’ve already got me pegged, Ariane. I’ll have to work harder at shocking you.”

She laughed again. “No, don’t, please!”

“Music to my ears. You’re doomed, I’m afraid.” He swung his legs over the edge of the bed, and rose to his feet. Her eyes skimmed down the length of him…she couldn’t help herself. Nor could she stop her mouth from watering.

When she met Damien’s eyes again, they’d gone so dark they were almost black, and she could see he knew exactly what she’d been thinking about.

She rose from the bed and took a quick step backward, an instinctive response to the predatory gaze now fixed on her.

“You’re going to stop that, kitten,” Damien murmured. “Because if you provoke me much more . . .”

Ariane knew he was going to catch her, but she was compelled to run anyway. She made it out of the bedroom, but he caught her from behind. She was spun and pressed up against the wall before she could make a sound.

He was raw sexuality, sheer physical power. Ariane knew she had no business allowing this. She didn’t know him, she didn’t like him . . . and gods, how she wanted him.

“Mmm, I love the way you smell,” Damien murmured, his breath tickling her ear in the most delicious way. Only his hands, his fingers twined with hers as they held her captive against the wall, seemed capable of holding her up.

He drew back, brushing his nose against hers. “Now let’s see how you taste.”