A thousand years ago, Finn Stanton was given a chance to get back the woman he loved enough to break the laws of Heaven. All he has to do is find her, and all she has to do is say I love you.
Never going to happen.
Having drunk of the Elixir of Life, Rachel Miller’s soul is tied to the earth in a perpetual cycle of death and rebirth. A widow, she lives with her six-year-old son in a strict religious community. She has no memory of the lives she has lived, though she is haunted by a love she can’t remember and a loss she can’t overcome.
Finn has no plans to even look for his wife. He betrayed her once, and the best thing he can do for her now is stay away. But fate has a way of hijacking the best of plans and Finn comes face to face with Rachel. Now he has five days before he loses her forever.
Rachel collapsed to her knees beside the huge wolf. Blood drenched one shoulder, clotting in the golden pelt. The sweet metallic scent filled her nostrils as she dug her fingers into the fur at his neck, searching for a pulse. She found it, slow and steady, and relief surged through her. She stroked down his neck to the shoulder, locating the place where the bullet had entered. There was no exit wound, so it was still lodged inside. It needed to come out, but at least the wound was no longer bleeding.
She glanced behind her, but everything was quiet. She’d heard the screams and the wolves. There had always been wolves in the forest around Haven, but they had never attacked either man or beast of the settlement.
Had they saved her?
She sat back on her heels. Her rescuer needed medical attention—the nearest veterinarian was in town—and she needed to go for help. But she didn’t want to leave him. If she turned her back, he would vanish. As he’d done so many times in the past.
She’d seen him before over the years. Not often, but now and then. She’d become aware of his focus, and she’d catch a glimpse of golden fur, the glimmer of silver eyes watching her from the shadows. As soon as she saw him, he’d disappear, as though he had some inner radar that told him she’d spotted him. Knew he was there.
This time, she didn’t want him to disappear.
He’d saved her. The adrenaline was seeping from her system, leaving her shivery and shaken. Those men had come after her. They’d meant her harm, though if they’d wanted her dead, they would have just shot her. They’d meant to take her. But for what purpose?
She stroked gently over the golden fur. “Wake up,” she murmured.
Something prickled across her skin, and she went still. The air around the wolf shimmered and sparkled, and a second later, the wolf was gone. In its place sprawled a man. A big man, long and lean, dressed in faded jeans, a black T-shirt, and a leather jacket.
She blinked. Then stared at him, shaking her head as though at any moment she would wake from a dream. Maybe she was unconscious. Perhaps she had passed out in the river and this was one last dream before death. This man was a stranger; she was sure she’d never seen him before, but a sense of familiarity washed over her.
He had dark-blond hair the color of the wolf’s pelt. His eyes were closed, his lashes like golden lace on his high cheekbones. His lips were full and parted slightly, his nose big and bony. He was quite the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.
Was she going insane?
Another shiver ran through her. A few feet from where she crouched, a gap in the canopy allowed the warm midday sun to break through. She backed away until she was sitting in the patch of sunlight. A few minutes later, the shivering stopped. Her hair had come loose in the water, and lay damp around her. She tugged it over her shoulder and plaited it loosely. Then she sat with her arms looped around her knees and watched the unconscious man. She didn’t know for how long. Now she could see the rise and fall of his chest with each breath.
Something occurred to her. There was no blood. The wound appeared to have vanished as though it had never existed.
She crawled toward him, reached out a hand and touched his shoulder, felt the heat of his skin against her fingertips. No blood, no wound, nothing. What was he?
Hah. She didn’t believe in such nonsense.
Her fingers fluttered against the pulse in his throat, before moving higher, stroking over the rough skin of his jaw. She went still.
With the exception of her husband, Joseph, she couldn’t remember ever touching a man like this. Not even Papi. It was against the rules of the settlement. But she couldn’t resist. Something drew her on.
Maybe he wasn’t real. Just a figment of her imagination. She’d always been a dreamer.
With one fingertip, she lightly traced his full lower lip, felt his warm breath against her skin, and heat flowed through her, settling low down in her belly.
His eyes flashed open. Gray, like the clouds before a thunderstorm. His hand moved fast, catching her own and holding it still. He searched her face and some emotion flashed behind his eyes. “Damaris.”
The muttered word made no sense. But she couldn’t seem to move. His other hand came up and his fingers caressed her cheek as his eyes filled with wonder. “Damaris.”
Had he mistaken her for someone else? For a moment, she wanted to be whoever he thought she was. Wanted to be the one inspiring that sense of wonder in this beautiful man.
Then his hand slid around the back of her neck, and he drew her down to him and kissed her. At the first touch of his warm lips, all rational thought fled. His mouth parted on hers, and his tongue pushed inside, filling her with heat and warmth, stirring her blood in a way she’d never known before. She was lost. Adrift. He tugged at her, and she fell, sprawling across his hard body. He rolled her so she was beneath him, and he was looming over her. Then he kissed her again. And she let herself go because it felt so good.
If this was evil, how could it feel so right? As though this was where she belonged. As though she’d lived through this moment in a thousand forgotten dreams.
Finally, he raised his head. Somehow her arms had gone around him, her fingers digging into his shoulders, and she tried to hold him close. But he was far stronger than her, and he pulled himself free and got to his feet, filling her with a sense of loss so strong it held her motionless while she brought herself under control.
She sat up.
“Who are you?” she asked. “What are you?”
Finn paced the small clearing, trying to force his brain to function as despair mingled with an insane sense of elation.
He’d never thought to hold her in his arms again. Certainly never thought to kiss her.
It shouldn’t have happened.
This was bad.
So fucking bad.
He’d been avoiding looking at her; now he cast her a quick glance. She sat on the forest floor, her arms looped around her knees, her hair in a plait over one shoulder. His heart hurt as he looked at her. She was all he had ever wanted. And she’d kissed him back. Heat flowed through his veins, settling in his groin, stirring his cock, and he groaned. Shoved his hands in his pockets.
“Why do you look at me like that?” she asked.
“Like what?” What did she see?
She shrugged. “Like you’re still a wolf and you want to devour me.”
“I would never hurt you.”
“What are you?” she asked again.
He turned away from her while he brought himself under some semblance of control. What was he? Good fucking question. And not one he could answer—that would really be breaking the rules of the Covenant.
Shit. Once again, he’d fucked up spectacularly.
They were never supposed to meet. And now they had, and in five days’ time, she would die.
He took a deep breath.
Maybe he could take her back. If no one knew, how could the Covenant be brought into play? Just see her safely home, then get the fuck away from here and never come back. Go hide and pretend they’d never met, and maybe she wouldn’t die.
Maybe he hadn’t brought about her death for a second time.
He ran a hand through his hair. He had no clue what to do. Somehow, he needed to put this right. Whatever the cost to himself. He had to speak to Torrin. There had to be something he could do. He could feel the panic rising and he forced it down. Turned back to Rachel.
She was staring up at him out of those startling green eyes. “Are you a…werewolf?” she asked.
The question took him by surprise. “No.”
But he could control werewolves. As he had the local pack, binding them to him, giving them the task of keeping Rachel safe, ensuring she was happy. Which strangely she had seemed to be in this life cut off from the outside world.
“Then what are you?”
“I can’t tell you. Just know that I’ll never knowingly bring you harm.”
And that was something else he wasn’t allowed to tell her. So he’d maybe twist the truth a little. “Twenty years ago, your father employed me…or rather my company, Stormlord Securities, to locate his wife and daughter. That was your mother. He wanted to know you were safe. We’ve been sending him reports ever since.”
“Twenty years ago? How can that be? You don’t look much older than me. But then you’re not entirely human are you, Mr….?”
“Stanton. Finn Stanton. And I’m older than I look.”
“Are you evil, Finn Stanton? Sent from the devil to tempt me from the Lord’s way?”
He wanted to ask if she was tempted but kept the question to himself. “I’m not from the devil.” Though Lilith was a close second.
He crossed to where she sat and held out his hand. He shouldn’t touch her, but he couldn’t resist. Just one more time. Afterward, he would take her back to her home and leave her and find out if there was any way he could save her. And they would never meet again.
As her palm slid into his, he knew he was lost. He pulled her to her feet, then closer, so she almost fell against his body. And he could feel her against the length of him, cool and still damp from her dip in the river. He released her hand and his arms went around her, pulling her closer, sliding down the smooth indentation of her waist, settling on the curve of her ass under the heavy material. He hardened immediately. After almost a thousand years of abstinence, his body was coming alive.
And it was fucking inconvenient.
Would it make a difference if he kissed her? Just one more time.
He stepped back, cupped her face, lowered his head, and took her sweet lips in a deep, drugging kiss. She tasted of honey and lemons and exotic spices, familiar even after so long. Intoxicated, he deepened the kiss. For a few seconds, she kissed him back, and he felt the sweet slide of her tongue against his, her body pushing closer, so the fullness of her breasts pressed against his chest. Her belly against his cock until his balls ached, and he thought he might go insane if he didn’t get inside her.
It took a moment to realize she was no longer kissing him back, her body stiff in his arms as she tried to pull away.
His mind screamed No but he loosened his hold and forced himself to take a step back. She blinked up at him, her face a mask of confusion, her swollen lower lip caught between her teeth.
“I can’t…I don’t…it’s not right. You’re not my husband. I’ll be shunned if they find out I touched you.”
“They’ll never know.” God, did he sound desperate. Probably.
“I’ll know. This is wrong. I’m grateful to you. You saved my life. But it’s wrong.”
He wanted to howl. To pray. Just once again to hold her in his arms, lose himself in her body.
Instead, he turned away, shoving his hands in his pockets and staring at the sky while he fought to bring his body under control. Breathing in and out. Just existing as he had for so long.
He’d betrayed her once. And he didn’t deserve her love. He’d always known that.
The thought calmed his raging body. And he turned back to her.
“Let me take you home. And then I’ll leave. You’ll never see me again.”