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Winter’s Caress(Brac Village 19)

By:Lynn Hagen

Chapter One

Dasani hurried through the forest before anyone spotted him leaving the village. He wasn’t sure this was such a brilliant idea considering the last time he ran through here he’d been kidnapped and taken to the demon realm to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

He still had nightmares about his time there.

But nothing was going to keep him from doing what he’d been doing for the past four weeks.


It was late winter, and although Dasani hadn’t dressed properly for the weather, his pulse raced and he felt sweaty. He also felt sweaty whenever he spied on the white tiger.

Dasani squatted and peered between the branches of the forest where he hid. He spotted the tiger in human form, working on some ranch equipment. Dasani felt his heart beating faster as he watched the man’s muscles strain with exertion. He was so gloriously formed that Dasani was positive the stranger was a god.

He had to be. No one looked that good. Dasani wiped his palms on his pants and scooted closer. If only he could go down there and introduce himself.

But he couldn’t. For one, Dasani wasn’t that brave. He would stumble over his words and more than likely pass out. He was a Shadow Elf and was supposed to be cunning and brave, but he wasn’t. Two, his father would skin him alive before he disowned Dasani. Not because Dasani was attracted to a man but because he was attracted to someone outside his race.

Although the tribe leader, Rakeym, was changing the tribe’s way of thinking, there were still some who clung to the old way. Dasani’s father was one of those stubborn, narrow-minded people. Egbar had even tried to mate Dasani to his own dang sister. That was when Dasani had taken off, running into the forest for miles on end. He hadn’t stopped until he’d stumbled onto this ranch—until he spotted the one man who gave Dasani many fantasies in his dreams.

His sister wasn’t thrilled with the arrangement either. She’d flat-out told their father no, but Egbar wasn’t so easily derailed. The guy was determined for them to mate.

Not happening.

Too bad his mother wasn’t still alive. Dasani knew she wouldn’t go for the idea. She’d kept their father in his place, but after her passing, Egbar had become impossible to live with. He’d even struck Dasani a few times for his disobedience.

But here, hidden in the woods, staring at a man who stole his very breath, Dasani could dream of another life. He could wish he belonged to the beautiful creature he so desperately wanted to meet.

Dasani winced when his cell phone rang. He pulled it from his pants and quickly silenced it, gazing at the stranger to make sure he hadn’t heard it.

Standing, Dasani walked further into the woods before he answered it. He wasn’t supposed to have a cell phone. The Shadow elves believed in living off of nature, rejecting the modern world.

Whatever. Dasani wasn’t giving up his iPhone even if his father tried to chop his arm off to get it.

“Why are you calling me?” Dasani whispered into the phone as if the stranger could hear him all the way up here.

“Dude, you missed our date,” Kevin snapped.

“It wasn’t a date, dork,” Dasani said. “We were just supposed to hang out.” He hadn’t told his best friend about his kidnapping. Kevin was a styre mente who lived in Pride Valley. Dasani had been afraid that his friend would go to the demon realm to exact revenge. Although Kevin had received a lot of training from Logan—a fully-grown styre mente who had been teaching Kevin how to control his powers, Kevin would have gone off halfcocked.

The last thing Dasani wanted was for his friend to get hurt. Or, worse, for Kevin to hurt someone. Being a styre mente, Kevin could control minds. His best friend had been warned that there was a fine line between good and evil when it came to his kind. Dasani didn’t want to send his friend to the dark side.

They’d met when Dasani had snuck into Pride Valley to get a glimpse at the Winged Beasts he’d heard so much about. He hadn’t spotted any, but he’d run into Kevin, who’d been practicing in his backyard.

Instant friends.

“Still,” Kevin said, “you could have at least called and told me you weren’t coming. I’ve been stuck in the house for days. I’m ready to ditch this place and have some fun.”

Dasani turned and gazed through the trees. He saw his lust interest still working. His body became hard as the stranger wiped his brow, his muscles flexing.

“Hello? You still there?”

Dasani sighed. “I’m here.” He didn’t want to leave his spying spot. He could watch the tiger work for hours on end—and he had. “Fine, I’m on my way.”

“Ten minutes,” Kevin said as if warning Dasani not to leave him hanging this time. “And bring snacks.”