Home > Lure of Oblivion (The Mercury Pack #3)(7)

Lure of Oblivion (The Mercury Pack #3)(7)
Author: Suzanne Wright


“That would be me,” the blond rumbled, eyes once again locked on her.

A lesser female might have found that direct, penetrating stare unnerving. Okay, it did unnerve her just a little. Nonetheless, she walked toward the shifters, unable to help admiring the way Zander held himself. He stood tall and still, his solid shoulders back, his head held high and ever so slightly tilted in a gesture that seemed both cool and self-assured.

“I’m Gwen. I work here,” she said, using that distantly polite voice she reserved for guests.

The dark wolf tipped his chin, eyes smiling. “Bracken.”

Zander said nothing, just looked at her with a blank expression. Well, wasn’t he a bag of delight.

“Good to meet you both,” she said. “Your rooms are ready, so let’s get you checked in.”

Zander opened the front door and gestured for her to enter first. With a quick nod of thanks, she walked inside and straight over to the reception desk.

At that moment, her foster mother came out of the kitchen, wearing a wide smile. It would be easy to look at Yvonne’s appearance and jump to the wrong conclusion—to think that the Botox injections, perfect hairstyle, slim figure, and inches of makeup on her dark skin meant she was vain and shallow. With Yvonne, it wasn’t vanity; it was insecurity. Her second husband, now deceased, had trashed her confidence and left her with a false, distorted image of herself.

Gwen and Marlon had shielded her from the Brandt situation as best they could, not wanting her to see how bad things were. Yvonne wasn’t stupid, though. She knew things were much worse than she’d been led to believe, but Yvonne was the master at burying her head in the sand.

“One of you must be Mr. Devlin,” she said with a slight hint of a Caribbean accent.

Zander gave a curt nod.

“I’m Yvonne. I own the place.” Patting her short, dark corkscrew curls, she studied them with a knowing glint in her eye. “You’re shifters, right? I can always tell. Can I ask what kind?”

“Wolves,” said Bracken.

“My Gwen loves wolves. I don’t mean wolf shifters; I mean wolves—she’s always been fascinated by them. Not that I’m saying she doesn’t like wolf shifters, you understand. She’s always liked shifters, always been interested in—”

“Is there a way to make you stop?” Gwen asked, staring at her in consternation. The males were going to think she was a shifter groupie or something.

“I was just explaining—” Yvonne cut off as the phone began to ring. “Excuse me,” she told the wolves and then picked up the phone.

While Yvonne took the call, Gwen put the males through the check-in rigmarole. Finally, she unhooked the keys for rooms four and five and slid them across the desk . . . only to see that Zander was staring at her with an intense focus that almost made her squirm. Sadly, there was no sexual interest there, just curiosity and a hint of . . . suspicion. Huh. Whatever.

He stared at her, and she stared right back, drumming her nails on the reception desk. A strange tension gathered in the air, coiling and thickening with each second, but she’d be damned if she’d look away first and—

Her head whipped to the side as the living-room door slammed shut . . . the empty room. She looked back at Zander, whose eyes were now narrowed on the door.

Ending the call, Yvonne shrugged at the wolves. “The slamming of doors isn’t an uncommon occurrence here.”

Bracken took a key and said with a smile, “So we should expect ghostly activity.”

“That all depends on whether the ghosts take an interest in you or not,” Yvonne teased. “Most of the activity happens on the third floor, which is why we currently have a group of demonology students staying up there.”

Zander’s brow creased slightly. “You think you have demons here?”

“Oh heavens, no.” Yvonne chuckled. “The ghosts are merely . . . mischievous.”

Gwen nodded. “They’ve never hurt anyone.”

Yvonne winced. “Well, there have been a few guests who said the spirits threw things at their heads, but I think they just made that up.”

Gwen bit back a smile as Zander studied her and Yvonne, as if he couldn’t decide whether they were being serious or not. “Follow me,” said Gwen. “I’ll show you where your rooms—” Hearing the back door of the house creak open, she looked down the hallway to see Donnie in the kitchen, still in camo gear and rooting through the cupboards.

After a moment, he turned and called out, “We have any Pop-Tarts?”

“Try the cupboard next to the pantry,” Gwen advised. “Any particular reason why you have a headless water snake hanging around your neck?”

He blinked and looked down. “Forgot that was there.” Pop-Tarts in hand, he then disappeared out the back door.

Turning back to the wolves, she ignored their puzzled expressions and gestured toward the wide, curved staircase. “I’ll show you to your rooms.”

 

Zander and his wolf were alike in many ways. Hard. Shrewd. Distrustful. They were also never rattled by anything. But there was something about Gwen Miller that made his wolf very cautious. The beast feared nothing, but strangely, he’d backed away from her. He now watched her carefully, still and quiet.

It wasn’t that the wolf had taken an instant dislike to her. No, in fact, the beast particularly liked her voice—it was low and sultry, and there was something oddly soothing about it. The wolf also liked her scent. Zander could admit that it was potent, especially for a human. Jasmine, orange blossoms, and wild berries. But even while his wolf greedily inhaled it, the beast also stayed back.

Zander just didn’t get it.

She was human, certainly no threat to him. And yet, his wolf had withdrawn from her, wary. It made Zander wonder what his wolf picked up about her that he himself was missing.

As a rule, Zander didn’t “miss” things. He was good at reading and predicting people, but he couldn’t quite grasp what troubled his wolf about the human. She didn’t fall into any of the three categories that humans tended toward when it came to shifters. Nor was she setting off any of his inner alarms.

He studied her again. She was small. Slender. Very feminine. Had a sleek cinnamon-brown side-braid and long, blunt bangs. Nothing like the tall, curvy redheads he went for. She might have been called plain if it weren’t for her eyes. They were exceptionally striking: a rich Prussian blue that seemed to stand out—maybe because the whites of her eyes were so clear.

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