Home > Mine to Possess (Psy-Changeling #4)

Mine to Possess (Psy-Changeling #4)
Author: Nalini Singh

CHAPTER 1


Talin McKade told herself that twenty-eight-year-old women—especially twenty-eight-year-old women

who had seen and survived what she had—did not fear anything as simple as walking across the road

 

and into a bar to pick up a man.

Except, of course, this was no ordinary man. And a bar was the last place she’d expected to find Clay,

given what she had learned about him in the two weeks since she’d first tracked him down. It didn’t

bode well that it had taken her that long to screw up the courage to come to him. But she had had to be

sure.

What she had discovered was that the Clay she’d known, the tall, angry, powerful boy , had become

some kind of high-ranking enforcer for the dominant leopard pack in San Francisco. Dark River was

extremely well respected, so Clay’s position spoke of trust and loyalty. The last word stabbed a blade

deep into her heart.

Clay had always been loyal to her. Even when she didn’t deserve it. Swallowing, she shoved away the

memories, knowing she couldn’t allow them to distract her. The old Clay was gone. This Clay…

she

didn’t know him. All she knew was that he hadn’t had any run-ins with the law after being released from

the juvenile facility where he had been incarcerated at the age of fourteen—for the brutal slaying of one

Orrin Henderson.

Talin’s hands clamped down on the steering wheel with white-knuckled force. She could feel blood

rising to flood her cheeks as her heart thudded in remembered fear. Parts of Orrin, soft and wet things

that should have never been exposed to the air, flecking her as she cowered in the corner while Clay—

No!

She couldn’t think about that, couldn’t go there. It was enough that the nightmare images—full of the

thick, cloying smell of raw meat gone bad—haunted her sleep night after night. She would not surrender

her daytime hours, too.

Flashing blue and white lights caught her attention as another Enforcement vehicle pulled into the bar’s

small front parking lot. That made two armored vehicles and four very well-armed cops, but though they

had all gotten out, none of the four made any move to enter the bar. Unsure what was going on, she

stayed inside her Jeep, parked in the secondary lot on the other side of the wide street.

Sweat trickled down her spine at the sight of the cop cars. Her brain had learned young to associate

their presence with violence. Every instinct in her urged her to get the hell out. But she had to wait, to see.

If Clay hadn’t changed, if he had grown worse…Uncurling one hand from the wheel, she fisted it against

a stomach filled with roiling, twisting despair. He was her last hope.

The bar door flew open at that second, making her heart jump. Two bodies came flying out. To her

surprise, the cops simply got out of the way before folding their arms and leveling disapproving frowns at

the ejected pair. The two dazed young men staggered to their feet…only to go down again when two

more boys landed on top of them.

They were teenagers—eighteen or nineteen, from the looks of it. All were obviously drunk as hell. While

the four lay there, probably moaning and wishing for death, another male walked out on his own two feet.

He was older and even from this distance, she could feel his fury as he picked up two of the boys and

threw them into the open bed of a parked truck, his pure blond hair waving in the early evening breeze.

He said something to the cops that made them relax. One laughed. Having gotten rid of the first two, the

blond man grabbed the other two boys by the scruffs of their necks and began to drag them back to the

truck, uncaring of the gravel that had to be sandpapering skin off the exposed parts of their bodies.

Talin winced.

Those unfortunate—and likely misbehaving—boys would feel the bruises and cuts tomorrow, along with

sore heads. Then the door banged open again and she forgot everything and everyone but the man

framed by the light inside the bar. He had one boy slung over his shoulder and was dragging another in

the same way the blond had.

“Clay.” It was a whisper that came out on a dark rush of need, anger, and fear. He’d grown taller, was

close to six four. And his body—he had more than fulfilled the promise of raw power that had always

been in him. Over that muscular frame, his skin shone a rich, luscious brown with an undertone of gold.

Isla’s blood, Talin thought, the exotic beauty of Clay’s Egyptian mother vivid in her mind even after all

these years. Isla’s skin had been smooth black coffee, her eyes bitter chocolate, but she had only contributed half of Clay’s genes.

Talin couldn’t see Clay’s own eyes from this distance, but she knew they were a striking green, the eyes

of a jungle cat—an unmistakable legacy from his changeling father. Set off by his skin and pitch-black

hair, those eyes had dominated the face of the boy he had been. She had a feeling they still did but in a

far different way.

His every move screamed tough male confidence. He didn’t even seem to feel the weight of the two

boys as he threw them into the pile already in the back of the truck. She imagined the flex of muscle, of

power, and shivered…in absolute, unquenchable fear.

Logic, intellect, sense, it all broke under the unadulterated flow of memory. Blood and flesh, screams

that wouldn’t end, the wet, sucking sounds of death. And she knew she couldn’t do this.

Because if Clay

had scared her as a child, he terrified her now.

Shoving a hand into her mouth, she bit back a cry.

That was when he froze, his head jerking up.

Dumping Cory and Jason into the truck, Clay was about to turn to say something to Dorian when he

caught an almost-sound on the breeze. His beast went hunting-still, then pounced out with the incredibly

fine senses of a leopard, while the man scanned the area with his eyes.

He knew that sound, that female voice. It was that of a dead woman. He didn’t care. He had accepted

his madness a long time ago. So now he looked, looked and searched.

 

For Tally.

There were too many cars in the lot across the wide road, too many places where Talin’s ghost could

hide. Good thing he knew how to hunt. He’d taken one step in that direction when Dorian slapped him

on the back and stepped into his line of sight. “Ready to hit the road?”

Clay felt a growl building in his throat and the reaction was irrational enough to snap some sanity into his

mind. “Cops?” He shifted to regain his view of the opposing lot. “They gonna give us trouble?”

Dorian shook his head, blond hair gleaming in the glow of the streetlights that had begun flicking on as

built-in sensors detected the fading light. “They’ll cede authority since it’s only changeling kids involved.

They don’t have any right to interfere with internal pack stuff anyway.”

“Who called them?”

“Not Joe.” He named the bar owner—a fellow member of Dark River. “He called us , so it must’ve been

someone else they messed with. Hell, I’m glad Kit and Cory have worked their little pissing contest out,

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