Home > Claimed (Brides of the Kindred #1)

Claimed (Brides of the Kindred #1)
Evangeline Anderson

Prologue

Dusk was falling on Idlewild Avenue. Rows of identical townhouses, lit softly from within, lined the street which was overshadowed by huge old oak trees. A light evening shower had just passed and now the atmosphere was heavy with moisture. Tendrils of steam rose from the asphalt and the sweet scent of honeysuckle filled the air.

In number eleven at the end of the row a slender female figure moved in front of a large picture window—one of the selling points of the otherwise unremarkable houses. She was walking back and forth, placing objects on a table, or perhaps taking them away—maybe cleaning up after dinner. She moved with ease and grace as she did the mundane chore, completely unaware that she was being watched.

Across the road from the lighted window and the slender figure, two pairs of eyes looked on avidly as she moved. One set of eyes was a pale, piercing blue that was almost white and the other set was a warm amber-gold that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the face of a tiger.

Neither pair of eyes was human.

“Mine.” The low rumbling growl came from the owner of the amber eyes. He was tall, six foot seven at least, with shoulders so broad he would have to turn sidewise to go through most doorways, but he moved silently, with a feral grace that belied his muscular physique. Dark stubble covered his cheeks and chin and matched the thick black hair on his head.

“Not yet, Baird,” the one beside him cautioned. He was as tall as his friend and just as muscular but he had short, spiky blond hair that complimented his pale blue eyes.

“Can’t wait much longer.” Long, strong fingers curled into a fist as though the amber-eyed male could grasp the slender figure in his hand and hold her through sheer force of will. “Been dreaming about her every night, Sylvan. I ache for her.”

“What does she look like?” There was genuine curiosity in the question. Though Baird had never seen her outside his dreams, Sylvan had no doubt he could describe his chosen female to the last detail.

“So fuckin’ beautiful it hurts to look at her. Yellow hair like yours but longer—more golden. And her eyes…” Baird shook his head. “Like jewels. A pale grey that’s almost silver.”

“You find these human women appealing then?”

“Only her—she’s the only one I can see.” The amber eyes stared hungrily across the road. “I need her soon. Need to be with her. In her.”

“You’re sure she’s the one?” Sylvan stared doubtfully at the woman silhouetted in the window. She was humming softly to herself but despite the distance and the pane of glass between them he could hear her perfectly and knew Baird could too. As attuned as his half brother was to this human female, he could probably hear her heartbeat even from across the street.

“I know she’s the one.” There wasn’t a shred of doubt in the deep, rumbling voice. “Didn’t I tell you we’ve been dream-sharing? And her scent…” He inhaled deeply and his dark gold eyes were suddenly half-lidded with desire. “It’s her all right and she’s ripe for bonding. I want her.”

“I know you do, but Baird…” The other male shifted from foot to foot uneasily. “You haven’t been back that long—only three days and it’s a miracle you escaped alive. Don’t you think it might be a good idea to wait a while? To take some time to recover?”

“Waited long enough,” was the rumbling reply. “Six months in that hell hole and the only thing keeping me alive and sane were the dreams I had of her. I won’t wait any longer—she’s mine, whether she knows it yet or not.”

“You’ll scare her,” his half-brother objected. “Human women are frightened enough of us as it is.”

“I won’t hurt her. Just need to take her—bond her.” Unconsciously, he took a step toward the lighted window but his half-brother put a restraining hand on his broad shoulder.

“Wait.” The other male’s voice was soothing. “Just wait until they serve the papers. One more night and she’s yours but you can’t have her now—not without violating the contract.”

A low, frustrated growl was his answer as the thick muscles of Baird’s upper arms bunched with tension.

“Come on.” The one called Sylvan tugged his half brother gently away from the lighted window. “If you stay here you’ll do something you regret. Remember, just one more night.”

The other male stood like a rock for a moment despite his brother’s tugging. Then, reluctantly, he allowed himself to be led away. He cast one last possessive glance over his shoulder at the figure in the window.

“Mine,” he repeated with unshakable certainty. “Mine whether you know it or not, Lilenta. And tomorrow I claim you.”

Chapter One

“Bad dreams again last night?”

Olivia Waterhouse jerked at the sound of her twin sister’s voice and then went back to staring at the kitchen table. “Uh, not so much,” she lied and tried to smile.

“C’mon, Liv, give. It’s me, your womb mate—remember?” Sophia sat down across from her and patted her hand gently. No one could ever decide if the Waterhouse twins were fraternal or identical. Liv had honey blonde hair with grey eyes and Sophia had a rich, chestnut mane with pale green eyes but their facial features were exactly the same. They had the same build too, both were five-seven and slender with hourglass curves. More than just twins, they were also best friends, which was why it made Liv uncomfortable to lie to her sister. But she couldn’t help it—the things she’d seen last night didn’t bear repeating.

“Really,” she said, not meeting her sister’s eyes. “I’m fine. I just had a restless night—that’s all.”

The truth was the dreams she’d been having for the past half year about the muscular stranger with glowing, amber-gold eyes had become progressively more disturbing. He was her nighttime visitor every time she closed her eyes. Liv had even named him—inside her head she called him “the dark man.”

For the longest time she’d dreamed of him someplace filled with shadows—someplace where despair was an almost palpable thing. Sometimes he was chained to the wall, his head bowed as if in exhaustion. Other times were worse. Liv had seen him hooked to some kind of machine, wires embedded in his dusky tan skin like malignant snakes feeding off him. On an inverted dome, as big as an IMAX screen above his head, images flashed—pictures of strange worlds she never could have imagined. One seemed to be all ice and snow, another a lush tropical jungle where the vegetation was mostly blue instead of green. And yet another seemed to be a world that was mostly a clear, golden ocean with tiny rocky islands dotted here and there.

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