Most Wanted Page 15

By the next morning, they had entered the wormhole and could finally relax. All the functions of the ship had been turned over to the computer. Nikolai turned to him with a smile. “Ready for some coffee?”

Blayde nodded and stood up, stretching. Nikolai was his youngest cousin, only twenty-two, yet he stood taller than any of the others. He was more slender, though still well-built with a lean, muscular frame. Unlike Blayde, Lucas or Kyle, his hair was red, and it was said he took this trait after his human grandmother. Their grandmother had been from the Russian colony on Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter.Nikolai’s great-grandfather, Gunnar, had seen the woman on a voyage to Europa and taken her by force to give to his female mate as a present. At that stage in their history, both male and female Lycans often took pretty humans as companions, or to help them raise their children. Sometimes they took them as concubines. Gunnar had seen the woman and thought she was beautiful. In fact, he lay with her at the same time he impregnated his mate, so that both produced sons, even though it was forbidden to use humans as breeding stock. But then the wild Gunnar had always operated outside the law. The human produced a lovely son, red-haired and handsome, half Lycan and half human. This son was Kyle’s and Nikolai’s grandfather.

Against all odds, the human and Gunnar’s Lycan mate became good friends, even lovers, but the human female made no secret of her antipathy toward Gunnar.

So much so, that Gunnar made a second trip to Europa and kidnapped her handsome twin brother to be his own concubine. Not only was he intrigued by his beauty, but since his mate was really more interested in her lovely human, he was free to indulge his own needs. He would make an excellent concubine, he thought. When the authorities finally caught up with him, the womanhe’d kidnapped was already in love with his mate, and opted to stay with her. The male, whose name was Ivan, was furious with Gunnar, but also attracted almost against his will. He refused to leave his sister and Gunnar behind. It was said, though, he led Gunnar a merry chase the rest of their lives.He’d even cursed all of Gunnar’s offspring.

“Better fortify yourself with a little caffeine, Blayde.It’s almost time to go down to your mate, though if you’re too busy, I could see to him for you. I’d like to get a closer look at Randy Ryan.”

Blayde snarled at him.“Don’t call him that.”

Nikolai laughed, holding up his hands in surrender.“Sorry. I was only teasing, but I should have known better. One of my best friends, Tobias, took a mate last cycle and damn near took my head off my shoulders when I patted his ass and said he had a cute,fat bottom.”

“Yeah, well, if I see you anywhere near Ryan’s cute, fat bottom I’ll do worse than that.”

Still laughing, Nikolai went for the coffee and Blayde stared after him with a murderous expression. Kyle came over to Blayde and clapped him on the shoulder.“Don’t let him tease you.He’s never been in love and doesn’t think it can happen to him.When he does fall, he’ll fall hard, and then we’ll see who has the last laugh.”

“Fall in love?” Nikolai scoffed, looking over his shoulder.“Never! If I ever do find my mate, I’ll run the other way.I’ve seen too many of this family fall crazy in love and do everything in their power to make their mates happy, even giving up their lifestyle and the things they love. Not me. Especially considering the curse Ivan put on all of us.”

“You don’t believe that, do you, Nik? He was just a crazy old man at the end.”

“A damn scary old man is what he was, and yeah, I believe it. Especially in light of…” He glanced over at Blayde and raised his eyebrows expressively with a grin.

Blayde threw the log book at him.“Fuck you! Like you wouldn’t make love to him if you had the chance.”

“Well, that’s probably true, but you can’t go by me. I love adorable little humans! Hell, I’ll never settle for just one, though.”

“Yeah,” Blayde said sadly. “Seems like I remember saying those same words not so very long ago, and look at me now.I can’t stand to be away from him for even a few hours. I’ve actually got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach from spendingthe night away from him.”

Nikolai handed Blayde and Kyle a cup of coffee.“That’s what I’m talking about. No way I’m letting myself in for that.”

Blayde and Kyle gave each other a skeptical look. Kyle toasted Nikolai with his cup. “Here’s to you, brother, but when it happens, and it will happen, I’m going to be the first to say I told you so.”

Blayde stood up and stretched, trying to act nonchalant when every nerve in his body was screaming at him to rush below decks to see Ryan.“Guess we should take the food packets down to the prisoners.Make sure they’re okay. C’mon, Kyle.”

“Let me go with you,” Nikolai begged.“I want to see Rand-uh-Ryan up close.I’ve seen his movies, but they say holo-film never does you justice.If that’s the case, he must be hot stuff.”

“He’s my hot stuff, so back off.Cousin or no cousin, I’ll gut you like a fish if you mess with him.”

“Aw, Blayde, I’ll just play a little with your pretty toy.I promise I won’t break him.” He laughed and dodged as the coffee cup went sailing by his head, but followed Blayde off the command deck and down to the galley. They loaded up on food packets for the prisoners, and went down the four levels to the below-decks area of the cells. They passed out the packets to the prisoners in the cells and then Nikolai stepped around Blayde and quickly punched in the code to open the seclusion cell Ryan was in. Looking back over his shoulder at him, Nikolai gave him an innocent little smile.“I’m going to take my turn with him first, Blayde. You’re going to have to settle for seconds today.”

Blithely ignoring Blayde’s furious glare, he slipped inside and closed the door in Blayde’s face. Blayde heard a snicker behind him and whirled around with mayhem on his face to find all the inhabitants of the cells strangely quiet with carefully neutral expressions on their faces.

Blayde leaned against the wall outside Ryan’s cell, waiting impatiently for his turn with his mate and planning how he would kill Nikolai slowly, and with great pleasure.

* * * * Ryan heard the door open and sat up eagerly, hoping to see Blayde walk inside. Instead a tall, handsome man with red hair hanging to his shoulders, and eyes the color of rubies walked in and stopped short as he saw Ryan gazing at him with sleepy eyes.

“Well, damn. Blayde sure wasn’t exaggerating, you are even betterlooking in person.” He smiled at Ryan’s puzzled scowl and stepped forward with his hand out.“I’m Nikolai, Blayde’s cousin.”

Ryan held up his cuffed hands with a wry smile. “Nice to meet you, Nikolai. I’m Ryan, but I guess you already know that.” He gestured down at his cuffs.“I would shake hands but I’m kind of tied up right now…”

Nikolai grinned, dug in his pocket for the keys and quickly unlocked the cuffs from his wrists and ankles, helping him out of them.

“Where’s Blayde?”

“Oh, he’s outside. I’m teasing him a little because I know how anxious he is to get in here. I’ve never seen him like this about anybody before, so I’ve been giving him a hard time.”

Ryan blushed.“Really?”

“Oh yeah. We’ve both seen all your movies, really good ones, by the way. I mean, for porn they were very well done. Um, that’s not exactly what I meant to say…”

Ryan laughed.“I know what you mean, and thanks, I think. So you’re Blayde’s cousin? How many cousins does he have?”

“Well, first cousins, he has four of us.There’s six in all, Blayde and his brother Lucas, Larssen and his twin, Konnor, and then me and my brother Kyle.”

“Are you all close?”

“Oh yes. And all alpha males.It’s part of the curse, according to family legend.”

“Curse? What curse?’ Ryan sat forward, intrigued.

Nikolai squatted down by the wall and got into his story.“Well, my great-grandmother was sort of kidnapped away from her home by my great-grandfather. Back in those days, my family operated a little, shall we say, outside the law. She was a Russian witch, everybody said, and she stayed with her Lycan mistress for over fifty cycles, but she never forgave my great-grandfather for taking her from her home and her family. She was a sweet old lady by the time we knew her. She made us call her Nanna, and she told us stories.

He kidnapped her brother too, another witch, or warlock, as they called the males. His name was Ivan. Their family finally came to rescue them, not long after they were kidnapped but by that time she wouldn’t leave. Neither would her brother. She was pissed, though, and never got over it. And Ivan, who was even more powerful than she was, never got over it either. He put a curse on all of my greatgrandfather’s descendants and even on his entire family’s line.”

“So he cursed children?”

“No, not exactly. It was more to get back at my great-grandfather. He told him all of his descendants would be alphas, and extremely dominant, both male and female.”

“Seems a strange kind of curse.” Ryan laughed. “Did it come true?”

“Oh, yes, and it was truly evil! Alphas can’t share territory,just can’t do it. So that meant all the boys and girls born to the family would never be able to live together in harmony. At least not as rulers of the pack. They would always be fighting among themselves, or else become travelers, unable to settle down.That’s been true too, except for Lucas.”

“For real?”

“Oh, yes,Lucas was the only one who ever really wanted to lead the pack, so he’s our pack alpha. The rest of us are bounty hunters, and voyagers. We never really wanted to settle down. But that wasn’t the worst of the curse.”

“Really? Whatelse?”

“Well, he said that each of us would know our mates immediately when we saw them and we would have to have them. Have to, like no choice at all in the matter, whether we were ready to have a mate or not.Well, that’s kind of true for most wolves anyway, so he cheated a little on that part of the curse. But with us, it’s even worse. We would know them by their scent and by their looks, he said, and we would fall instantly in love. Painfully and irrevocably in love, so we have to be with our mates at all times or be miserable.You see, Ivan didn’t like being left alone all the time while Gunnar roamed the universe without him. Gunnar had exacted his promise that Ivan never curse him, so he did the next best thing. He cursed all of the descendants.” Nikolai looked Ryan over carefully.“Although if I had a matelike you, I wouldn’t want to leave him anyway, curse or no curse.”

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