- To Hold A Siren's Heart
Sleeping with the enemy is never a good idea. Neither is falling in love with her.
Siren David Michaels lives by one rule: no relationships. His kind are cursed to lives of jealousy and selfishness when it comes to relationships. Having a one-night stand with a sexy stranger sounded good at the time. The last thing he expected was to see her show up seven years later claiming his very sick little brother is the long-lost next alpha of the Boulder pride.
Megan Kincade, only daughter of the Boulder pride alpha, hasn't stopped dreaming about the dark-haired man she slept with in Florida. The last thing she expected was to find him claiming her little brother as his own, and learning he's a siren. The enemy.
Taking his little brother back to his family is the only way for him to live. But if David loses him, he loses his humanity. And he also sets off a war if his symphony finds him. Then there's the problem of falling in love with the alpha's daughter.
When David's symphony comes for him, he gives himself up to save Meg and Owen. The love he thinks himself incapable of is the only thing that can save him. Provided Meg can find the courage to defy her pride and save her siren's heart.
It had been seven years, eight months, and sixteen days since David Michaels wanted to seduce someone. The woman sitting on his neighbor’s porch, with her purple hair falling across her shoulders and neck, made every inch of his body strain to go to her. Made his throat ache to release his siren song and carry her off.
He slid out of his SUV and slammed the door hard enough to make her look toward him. She did. Then stood and poked her head through Dante’s front door. A moment later, both of them headed across Dante’s yard.READ MORE
David rounded his car to meet them halfway. And froze, breath stuck in his throat. She wasn’t just any woman, but the one from the hotel bar in Orlando seven years ago. The one he’d shared his bed with that night in a one-night stand he hadn’t forgotten. Nights with a girl were so rare he remembered all of them, but judging by the blank look on her face she didn’t recognize him. Probably not a bad thing.
Dante stopped at the edge of the driveway and shoved his hands in his pockets. David sucked in a breath. “How was your trip?” He didn’t want to know the answer to his question, but his little brother’s life depended on it.
Dante had spent the last week in Denver meeting with the Boulder Pride leadership to see if Owen had come from there. Being a form-bound cat shifter wasn’t in doubt. Just where he’d come from. “I have enough information to believe I’m right. If I am, Owen may be an alpha.”
David turned his back on Dante and the girl he knew only as C. Anything but an alpha. He closed his eyes, beyond certain they were turning red and would give him away. Owen was his link to emotions, to seeing humans as people instead of food. Without his brother, David was just another siren doing anything to feed. Including trampling other people’s privacy and right to self-determination.
Owen was also the only person or thing standing between him and a loneliness so deep it might drive him to do something stupid. On the other hand, Owen was dying. With months to live, instead of the two centuries plus he’d have if he were really an Egyptian cat shifter.
A familiar hand landed on his shoulder. Squeezed. “I wanted to be wrong, David. You’ve no idea how much. All the evidence says he’s Owen Kincade.”
“Who’s the girl?”
“His sister, Megan. We decided she’d be the least threatening.”
David opened his eyes. Found his hands choking the life out of the strap on his messenger bag, talons slicing out between his fingers and digging into his palms. Better that than lose another bag, especially when it had his work laptop in it. “Did you tell them anything about me?”
“Just that you’re very close, and if they want Owen back they have to accept you as well.”
David let out a soundless laugh. “Yeah, right. Once they find out what I am, one way or another I’m dead.”
“Maybe, maybe not.” The weight of Dante’s hand disappeared. “We should take her inside and get this over with. Owen’s running out of time.”
David faced the girl again. It was her. No doubt about it A little older, a little curvier, a little more beautiful, but standing with the same easy grace that should have told him back then she was a cat. He hadn’t exactly been paying attention to details, though. Kinda hard to do when lust crowded everything else from his brain.
She met his stare with a cool, distant one, full of an odd kind of dominance he’d never seen before. “Megan Kincade.”
“What are you?” Megan crossed her arms, cocking her head and continuing to stare at him.
“None of your business right now. I’ve protected Owen from our world. He’s not going to believe this.”
“I’m prepared to demonstrate.”
“Good. You’ll have to.” He put his back to her and headed for the front door. Her dominance had nothing on his, despite the fact she never dropped her gaze while speaking. He focused on his hands and pulled his talons back in. The way they came out and curved would give him away in a heartbeat. He managed to get the door open without dropping his keys.
Silence met him. Owen was stretched out in his recliner, both cats in his lap, eyes closed. David took his bag off and set it on the couch, then went to Owen and flattened his hand on Owen’s forehead. A little feverish still.
Owen’s eyes fluttered. It took him a moment to focus, and one side of his mouth lifted. “You’re late,” he whispered.
“The design meeting got a little heated. Apparently I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to pressure tolerance.”
“He’s an idiot and you’re a genius.”
David ruffled Owen’s hair. “Thanks, bro.” He settled on the recliner arm, unable to hold Owen’s gaze because of all the pain in it. The temptation to feed on it was a daily fight, and right now he was off enough he might give in.
“You’re too perceptive for your own good.”
Owen swatted at his leg. A very feline move, now that David knew for certain what he was. Sure, he’d suspected it for several years. But without proof, he’d ignored it. “You know that trip Dante took to Colorado?”
“He went out there looking for your birth family.” David looked at Owen so he wouldn’t miss his reaction. Owen’s reactions tended to subtle, but David had over fifteen years’ experience reading them. To him, they were as obvious as another siren’s cloaked wings.
Owen’s forehead creased. “Why Colorado? I thought I was from here.”
“Dad suspected how you got here was illegal. You were so scared and traumatized they couldn’t be bothered to care about the means. You needed a family to protect you from whatever monsters haunted your dreams.” Dad knew those monsters were real, but he’d never figured out what they were.
Owen shuddered. “The dream monsters are back, David. They’re bigger now. Scarier. With more teeth.”
“They won’t get you, Owee, I promise.”
Owen leaned into him, and David wrapped his arms around his brother’s shoulders. “Dante really thinks he found my birth family?”
David held him tighter. This family wouldn’t want him around. They’d make him leave, tell him to never contact Owen again. By the time Owen cemented his place in the pride hierarchy, it’d be too late for David to hold on to the humanity he’d found. “Yes.”
“So why are you scared? You’re my family, too.” Owen paused. Pulled back and touched David’s face to get him to make eye contact. “And why does Dante care about finding my birth family? You’ve never explained that part of it.”
“I was honoring Dad’s wishes.” But now he faced watching his brother die if he didn’t break his promise to Dad. The way he’d watched his father die. The way Owen had watched their mother die. “But I don’t want you to die.”
“I’m too young to die,” Owen whispered.
“I agree. If Dante is right, you won’t, for a very long time. It’s a chance I think we have to take.” Finagling it right meant he could keep the spirit of his promise to Dad, while saving his link to real emotion and keeping himself from becoming a monster. He shifted on the arm to ease the metal digging into his ass. “He brought someone back you might be related to. They’re waiting outside.”
Owen sighed, and settled into the recliner again. His breathing shifted into one of his pain patterns. He wore both of his wrist braces, both ankle braces, and the way he kept his legs said his knees and hips hurt as well. The rheumatoid arthritis was eating him alive, creating a cascade of health problems that had required Owen to first give up working on his accounting degree, then forced him to quit his job. “I want my life back, David. They can come in.”
David didn’t move. “There’s one more thing. The world you can see…it’s not the only one.”
“You just think you do. Enjoy this moment, little brother. The world you know is about to disappear forever.” David left the recliner and went to the door. Motioned Dante and Megan inside. His fingers itched to run through her hair, see if the new color changed the texture he remembered. In Orlando, her hair had been plain old brown. But he kept his fingers to himself. Giving himself away accomplished nothing.
She shook her head. “I’ll stay out here until Dante has filled him in.”
David closed the door most of the way and returned to his spot on the recliner arm, but on the other side this time.
“Hey, kiddo.” Dante ruffled Owen’s hair.
“I stopped being a kid a long time ago.” Owen stuck his tongue out at Dante. “David told me what you think you found.”
Dante dropped onto the couch, closest to Owen. “I’m as positive as I can be without a DNA test. There’s a catch, though.”
“There usually is.”
Dante bent forward, rested his forearms on his knees, and looked at Owen. “We have to go out there to prove it.”
Owen’s hand found David’s. Squeezed so hard David heard his talons crunching against bone. “Why?”
“Did David mention to you this world you see isn’t the only one?”
Owen nodded. David didn’t free his hand. Owen needed it to keep him grounded. Having one’s world turn inside out wasn’t easy.
“David and I are part of this other world. So are you. The problem is, you’ve been locked out of it. To get you back in, we have to go out there. I need their help to get you back in.” Dante’s gaze flicked to David for a moment.
“We can’t do it with them coming here?”
Owen tilted his head to the left. “I’m not sure I believe you.”
Dante sighed. “I don’t expect you to. That’s why I brought your sister back with me. You probably won’t recognize her, but she’ll recognize you.”
“I was a little kid the last time she saw me, if she’s my sister.”
Dante stood. “She’ll know. Trust me, Owen. Please.”
Owen looked to David. He wanted to tell him no, he didn’t have to trust Dante. Didn’t have to let this woman in. Didn’t have to accept his birth family might want him back. But the price of that answer was Owen’s life. David squeezed Owen’s hand again. “He’s right.”
Dante went to the door and opened it. Megan Kincade sauntered in like she owned the place, her gaze fixed on Owen. David had to remind himself to keep breathing. Nothing good could come of his being attracted to the daughter of one of the most powerful shifter alphas in the world.
He’d sworn to Dad he’d protect Owen no matter what. Twice already he’d failed. A third time was not going to happen. No matter what it cost him along the way.
Owen stared at her. Leaned forward a bit in his chair, but didn’t release David’s hand. And David didn’t pull away. They faced things together or not at all. “Why do I feel like I know you?”
“Because you do.” Megan perched on the edge of the couch, in the space closest to Owen. “Your cat recognizes me.”
Owen shook his head. “I don’t have a cat.”
“Yes, you do. It’s locked inside you and can’t get out.” She held her hand out, palm up, claws extending from her fingertips. “I have one too.”
Those hands knew his body. Had done magical things to it and left him bordering on incoherent.
Owen ran his index finger across her palm, and up each finger to touch all five claws. Claws coming from her fingers marked her as Egyptian, whereas David’s talons between his fingers marked him as Greek.
Owen pulled his hand back. “Prove it.”
Megan stood, went to the hearth, closed her eyes, and the shift happened in an instant. One millisecond she was a human woman with purple hair, wearing jeans and a Disney t-shirt. The next she was a sleek, tawny cougar with amber eyes and brown-tipped ears. Owen gasped. David didn’t move a single muscle. She was magnificent. And just as beautiful in cat form as she’d been in human form. Every part of his body went up in flames with the need to feel her fur.
Super bad idea.
“This can’t be real,” Owen whispered.
Megan took a step toward Owen. David leaned forward, eyes narrowed, vision tinted red. Shit. His eyes were turning again and giving him away. The list of creatures whose eyes went red was very short, and none were welcome in Egyptian shifter lands. Megan stared at him and her own eyes narrowed, in response to his going red, no doubt.
No one was hurting Owen, least of all a member of the family who hadn’t spent the last twenty-two years searching for him.
“Easy, David. She means no harm.”
David transferred his glare to Dante. The fact they could communicate telepathically meant Dante had god blood in him. But he guarded his true identity with the same zeal as David did his. “You’re not the one with a sworn oath hanging over you. I wouldn’t change it for anything, but you know what’ll happen to me if Owen gets hurt.”
“If she makes a move on him, I’ll flash her out before she can make contact. Happy?”
“Yes.” David returned his attention to Megan and Owen. She now sat at his feet as he scratched her head. When he stopped to rest his hand, she rubbed her cheek on his pants. Her purr filled the room.
The next sound made him snarl inside. Owen’s purr, for the first time, was audible. Owen put his hand to his chest. Looked at David, his eyes wide and the rings of brown and blue in them being swallowed by the green. Also a first. Meg was reaching his cat. “Why am I purring?”
David sucked in a deep breath and held it a moment. His inner siren—the one no one alive had ever seen or ever would see—screamed for blood. Owen’s purr belonged to him, not Megan Kincade or Dante. Owen’s sub-vocal purr soothed his siren madness and provided the harmonic resonance his bones needed. It wasn’t to be shared with anyone.
But Owen’s cat seemed to think otherwise, and it was a good sign of his cat still being alive and able to get out. “You’re purring because you’re a cat.” He leaned in. Whispered. “You always purr when I hold you. You’ve just never heard it before.”
Owen’s hand cupped his neck and held him in place. “I can feel something scratching at my mind, like it’s trying to pull a wall down.”
“That’s exactly what’s happening, Owen.” Dante knelt in front of him and put his hands on Owen’s knees. “Your cat knows Megan, knows she can help free him from his prison.”
“How can this be real?”
David kept his attention totally on Owen. He had to ignore Megan’s presence or he’d end up going for her throat. “Cats have always followed you. Remember? They do whatever you ask. They protect you. Strays were always following you home. You remember the zoo field trip when you were twelve?”
Owen nodded. “The lions laid down when I looked at them. And the leopards, the jaguar, the cougar, and the tigers. But why?”
Dante let out a low whistle. He’d never heard the story before. “You’re not just a cat, Owen.” He paused a moment. “The evidence says you’re an alpha. Every animal you encounter knows it. Whatever was used to bind you into human form is so well done, I had no idea you were alpha until your father told me you were showing the signs. There are no alphas your father trusts to take his place. If we don’t get you home and freed, your pride will be torn apart by internal and external war.”
Owen leaned into David. “I don’t want that much responsibility.”
“You’ll grow into it.”
Owen shook his head, then collapsed against the back of the recliner, eyes closed. David pressed his palm to Owen’s forehead and grimaced. Spiking fever. “You need to go. He’s exhausted.”
Dante stood. Megan’s cat disappeared and she once again became the woman who heated David’s blood past boiling. Really, he had no business being so attracted to someone from another pantheon. Besides, a happy ending was impossible for him, even without that little wrinkle.
He watched them leave. Megan threw one last glare at him over her shoulder before Dante hauled her outside.
“Are they gone?” Owen whispered.
Owen’s eyes fluttered open, and he stopped trying to hide the wheezing taking over his lungs. “Why have you never mentioned any of this?”
“Dad made me promise not to. He thought it’d be safer for you.”
“Are you a cat too?”
“No.” He stood. Sitting on the recliner arm for one more second might split his tailbone. “It’s safer right now if you don’t know what I am. Dante does, and he won’t let anything happen to me.”
Owen narrowed his eyes and frowned. “You told him, but you won’t tell your own brother?”
“He guessed. I’ve never willingly told anyone what I am. It’s too dangerous.”
Owen’s frown relaxed, but didn’t go away. “For you, or the person who knows?”
“Both. Once you’re capable of protecting yourself, I’ll show you what I am and what I can do.”
Owen lifted his left hand, pinky extended and his other fingers folded against his palm. David swallowed a sigh and hooked his left pinky around Owen’s. “Promise. But when you’re alpha of one of the biggest prides in the world, you don’t need to go around making people pinky swear with you.”
The last vestige of the frown disappeared in the light of Owen’s smile. Which David met with his own. These were the moments he lived for, when Owen’s illness disappeared and he was once more the happy-go-lucky little brother who’d died the day he found their mother dead in her bed.
“I’m hungry. Then I need to get in the hot tub for a while.”
David nodded and left Owen in the recliner while he put supper together from the week’s leftovers. If they were heading for Colorado, he needed to get the fridge cleaned out.
He sagged against the stove. Colorado. Shit. The one place Dad had made him swear to never go back to. And the one place he had to go to if he wanted his brother to live.COLLAPSE