Gold spilled over the tables skirting the gleaming marble floor of the immaculate ballroom. Mirrors reflected each other like tangible echos on either side, giving the illusion of endless space, glimmering light and people. The very room was designed to be a criminal’s best friend and an operative’s worst nightmare. There were at least two skilled pickpockets working the crowd, but humans behaving badly were not Aviana’s concern.
Their gracious hostess, Madame Fervaunte, was the biggest con of them all, at any rate. With her help, the gala had been set up to lure a far more dangerous threat to the Parisian elite. A Succubus who’d been picking off the wealthiest and most entangled, which made the task of covering up the crimes a strain, even for the GSI.
Hence, Aviana and Stephan’s assignment. Her partner had been in France for months, living his backstory, carefully laying the delicate gossamer layers, until no one saw him for anyone other than Lord André Beauchene, a young aristocrat from Nice. Avi was playing his French-American girlfriend, Claire Dubois, on holiday from university. In reality, she’d been on another assignment in Moscow.
The plan was simple: confirm the target was on site, then spring a trap they couldn’t possibly resist. Easy, in theory. They just had to keep the night flowing in their favor. Seated across from their clever and witty hostess, both Avi and Stephan were attuned to everything happening around them. It helped that they were able to use their own supernatural senses to remain alert, rather than relying on their eyes. That’s how Aviana caught her first whiff of mud. A bitter, damp and almost decaying aroma that couldn’t be disguised with an entire vat of Chanel. She honed in on the smell, following it over the room’s occupants, then silently alerted Stephan to a beautiful brunette laughing and flirting with a minor viscount in the far corner of the dance floor. It was time. The faster they put their plan into motion, the faster they could stop the viscount’s naivety from becoming fatal.
“Madame,” Stephan politely interrupted their hostess, as he began rising from his chair.
The woman gasped and abruptly looked past him, her entire face lighting up with pleasant surprise. Aviana completely lost the Succubus’s scent, at that precise moment. Her senses taken hostage by the familiar, heady fragrances of morning dew on grass, fertile earth and windswept mountains. She nearly forgot herself and closed her eyes, as it overpowered everything else, flowing right into her like a jet stream. Purposeful. Driven. Demanding.
The room fell into a murmur of awe, people captured by whoever filled the entrance and Aviana didn’t even have to look to know. The only reason she did, was to not give herself away. Then her gaze was trapped by the reddish-brown irises of the one she thought she’d escaped. It was surreal to see him standing there, looking a thousand times deadlier in a damn skirt than he had in jeans and a t-shirt. His red, black and white tartan was complimented by the short, formal jacket of black with its big silver buttons. The decorative, fur lined sporran hanging from his hips boasted a large, snarling wolf head in more silver. It was arrogantly intimidating. A symbol of pride for his people that, like the living wolves beside him, the human guests couldn’t possibly see as anything other than eccentric, yet Avi found it ridiculously sexy.
“Caden McCuine MacSweyn,” the usher announced without a single waver, despite the giant wolf that brushed against his leg. “High Chief of Skye Clan Revan, Laird of Uig.”
No! Stunned, Avi didn’t dare share a glance with Stephan, but she had to wonder if he’d just connected the same dots. If that really was the Caden McCuine–Alpha of the UK packs–then their entire operation was in shambles. Because, if their target found viscounts tasty, she certainly wasn’t going to pass up on a king!
#WIP Untitled (The Úlfrinn series)