Beastly Desires

By: Nikki Winter


San Antonio, Texas…

“Do you really believe yourself to be that good of a shot, Kamali?”

The voice behind that question was smooth, calm—arrogant. But he didn’t understand, did he? He didn’t truly grasp that he’d toed a line that should’ve never been crossed. He was a part of something that bordered on genocide. All because of one male, one leader.

Kamali Oriade’s hand remained steady, the sawed-off she held unwavering. When would her kind learn that being a predator didn’t mean you couldn’t become prey? When would they understand that an over-inflated sense of self-worth was what had gotten their species hunted down and gutted over and over again? When would they realize that the most foolish decision anyone could make—human or shifter—was to get between a mother and her child?

“Kamali, sweetheart,” another voice coaxed, the owner of it grinning, his canines in clear view. “Nico will forgive you if you just hand over the cub and come back.”

Clearly the answer to her questions was never. They’d never learn. Shifters had a natural affinity for reckless behavior. Having the ability to become a literal weapon contributed to that. It was easy to laugh at a perceived threat when an animal prowled just beneath your skin. But what they didn’t seem to comprehend was that she wasn’t just a perceived threat, she was the threat. And if they took another step, covered anymore ground between herself, the cub currently whimpering as he clung to her leg, and the shotgun in her grip, they’d die. They’d. Fucking. Die.

“You,” Kamali stated mildly, “are out of your goddamned minds if you honestly believe you’re going to drag me back to that son of a bitch. Fuck you and fuck him.”

The man in her peripheral moved from one foot to the other and she knew what he was doing. “If you charge me, I’ll splatter your head before you can even get within a foot. Be still, Russ,” she calmly announced.

“You’re making this harder than it has to be.” The one facing her dead on said. “You have to know that what you’re doing right now will not end well.”

A low growl rumbled up from her gut. They were stupid, so very, very stupid if they thought this wouldn’t result with half their heads missing and her driving off into the night.

She couldn’t give one good fuck about any threat their pride leader had made before sending them off to find her. She wasn’t going back. She’d never go back. He’d slaughtered half of her pride, slit her father’s throat in front of her face, and he now expected what? For her to stand by and watch him kill her cub so he could wait for her to go into heat and impregnate her with his own? He was off it, and so were the males before her. Rogues. Roving males looking for a pride to take over, looking for a dominant leader weak enough to kill. That had been Kamali’s pride. That had been Kamali’s father. Nico Traore was a monster in every sense of the word and if she went back, if she ventured onto what was previously Oriade land, the last of what she loved—protected—would be taken. She wouldn’t allow that, couldn’t.

Russ’ chuckle caught her attention and she realized she’d been shaking. He probably thought it was fear but she knew better. Her beast was very close to snapping its leash but she couldn’t shift. Since both males were bigger, it’d give them the upper hand, and Kamali would be left vulnerable. That wouldn’t happen again. They were traitors, both of them. They’d apparently helped Nico plot this for months, and those who hadn’t died tonight had stood with him.

“If you give him a female to replace the boy, he may overlook your…offenses.”

She felt her eyes slowly bleed into that of her beast’s as fury began to take hold. They spoke of her son, her Callum, like he was trash; something disposable instead of a living being, instead of the very thing that made her rise in the morning. Kamali gritted her teeth. “I will not bargain over my son like he’s a kitten I picked up on the side of the road. My advice is that you turn around and go back. Go back to Nico, go back to what you stole.”

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