The List (Coyote Tales)
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Copyright ©2013 Michelle Hasker
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"You can't seriously be thinking about going out in that."
Abigail spun around, glancing at Darius in surprise. "Please. You've seen me in less than this at family functions."
Darius stepped close, invading her personal space -- something he did all the time. She chalked it up to them both being alpha and him trying to assert dominance. No matter why he did it, it made her stomach flutter with nervous butterflies. It's just Darius, your childhood friend. If your parents trust him with you then you can trust him not to hurt you. Let him assert his dominance and then go off and do what you want, anyway. Like usual.
"Your brother's pool party doesn't count. There I expect to see you in a skimpy bikini. You can't help being every man's sexual fantasy, Abigail, but if you dress like that you're asking for trouble. The kind you don't want."
"I can't help being what I am, Dar. It wouldn't matter if I wore a burlap bag. Damn pheromones. It's like my forehead has a tattoo on it that says Pure Blood. Mate with me."
Darius took her hands in his and led her to the sofa where he tugged her down with him. "It's more serious than you think, Abs."
She wasn't sure how to respond. He had gone from being all aggressive and bossy to being a concerned confidant. "What are you talking about?"
"There are many in our pack concerned that you haven't mated yet."
"It's none of their business."
"They're worried you won't ever mate or have pups."
"Again, none of their business."
"Abs, your father is our alpha. Everyone knows he wants you mated to a pure blood to continue the line. He's worried about you. And rightly so, considering the way you've been acting of late."
"First of all, it's not my fault that many of our kind have been mating with wolves and diluting the coyote line. Secondly, I won't be told who I'm to marry. I want to marry for love. Not because someone is pure blood."
"Soon you won't have a choice. Your parents are searching for a mate for you. If you don't pick someone, before long you just may lose that privilege."
"They can't make me mate with someone."
Darius shook his head, his hands tightening on hers. "Honey, it's not just your parents you should be worried about. There aren't many pure blood females left, let alone an alpha. You would be a catch for anyone, even non pure males. I don't understand why you don't get it."
"Oh, I get it, Darius. I get it all too well. Because of what I am, males want me. Not because of who I am, but because of the blood pumping through my veins. Being Coyote doesn't define me. I refuse to bow my head and mate for the sake of mating. For the purpose of propagating the pure bloods. I will mate who I want, when I want, because I want, and no one else."
A low growl vibrated through his chest when she pulled away and rose.
"Don't you dare growl at me! I'll stick to my usual humans. No harm can come to me with them. They don't have the ability to mate with me."
"Aren't you tired of them?"
"Obviously not or I wouldn't be hunting for one tonight."
"Hunting is the proper term for what you're doing."
"Lay off, Dar. This has become a longstanding argument between us. One neither of us will win."
"There will be a winner." Darius rose as she did. She made the mistake of looking into his deep blue eyes to see what he was thinking, and fell into their swirling mists. She shook her head as he took a step forward. She refused to be intimidated. He was a good fifty pounds heavier and four inches taller. Her gaze moved over his six foot frame, taking in his solid muscle mass. The man had no body fat or she wasn't pure blood.
That fluttering in her stomach was back and joined with shortness of breath when her heart rammed into her throat and lodged there, pounding an erratic beat.
"Dar." She took a shaky step back, not liking the gleam in his eyes. She'd seen that look in males before. Been able to handle them before. But Darius? Abigail shook her head and raised her hands, palms out in surrender. "Back off, Darius. Back off now."
His lips turned up in a mischievous grin. "No. I don't think so." His eyes glowed with a predatory gleam she couldn't fail to interpret.
"Don't do something you're going to regret." The cold hard wall behind her was a warning she had nowhere else to run.
"On the contrary. Every day I don't do this I am filled with regret."