Munro (Immortals After Dark #18) by Kresley Cole

            “Each station radioed in an all-clear before the ceremony started.”

            She relaxed a fraction. Their surveillance net would have caught a large force swooping in. “Maybe we have kobolds tunneling to the surface. They’ve probably been maddened by the scents from the cooktent.”

            “As have we all!” Vanda raised her crooked finger, eyes merry as she declared, “Those little pests can have the beef minci, but they’d best not touch our plum brandy.”

            Laughter rang out.

            Puideleu patted Vanda’s hand and laughed with her. The fortune-teller grinned widely, looking like she’d already hit the brandy. Ren had considered talking to her adored friend about her “tippling,” but the woman was nearly a hundred and had been the only one of her family to survive a centaur stampede fifty years ago.

            Cheers, Vanda. “To be on the safe side, let’s radio the scouts every quarter hour—”

            The main tent flap flew open. A shirtless giant of a man limped inside, his broad chest heaving.

            Who the hell is this? Closing in on seven feet of height, the stranger had pale skin covered with what looked like blood. His hair was drenched in it, and dried crimson obscured his features. His brawny frame had not a spare inch of flesh, his muscles rippling in relief. Slashed leather breeches clung to his narrow hips.

            With those glowing, ice-blue irises and black claws, he must be a Lykae. What if he was connected to the approaching threat?

            She canted her head. No, he wasn’t a newling. Those creatures never reverted to their more humanlike half, and this stranger’s inner beast—the spirit of the wolf that lived inside each Lykae—wasn’t fully risen.

            Ren had never seen a non-newling Lykae before. He looked almost human. And for some reason, he beheld her as if he were seeing a ghost.

            Lykae weren’t evil per se—not like warlocks and vampires—but this one was obviously aggressive.

            Jacob’s hand eased toward one of his revolvers. Puideleu drew a hidden rapier from his cane. Other hunters silently readied.

            But Ren possessed the only weapon that could take this Lykae down. Under her breath, she commanded in Romanian, “Hold.”

            The hunters stilled.

            As she took the Lykae’s measure, deciding the best strategy, his gaze remained riveted to her. Vibrations of power emanated from his towering body. She’d fought monsters for years, but she’d never had such an awareness of one’s strength.

            The air between them crackled. Though she couldn’t make out his features under all that blood, she found his power—his very being—compelling. When shivers raced over her skin, she wondered if she was losing her mind.

            His canines and claws lengthened, and his hands balled into fists—as if he was about to seize her.

            Björn said in broken Romanian, “I can strike him from behind, boss.”

            A human take a Lykae unawares? Not possible. In the same tongue, she answered under her breath, “Fuck right off, Björn. He’s mine. A monster dares to interrupt my wedding? He’ll feel the bite of my blade.” Her bespelled hunting knife was strapped in her thigh holster.

            Björn stood down with a nod. The others awaited her next move. Normally she would incapacitate her opponent at once, but she wanted to know three things: where this male had come from, if he was connected to the newling pack, and how many more the circus should expect.

            She also wouldn’t mind knowing why he focused only on her. “Do you speak English, stranger?”

            His lids grew heavy, as if her voice was music to him. “Alive. You are . . . alive?”

            She sighed. “Are any of us, truly?”

            Guzmán, the Brazilian contortionist, snickered. Trish, the dancer from America, chuckled. Vanda looked fascinated by this stranger, her gaze wide with excitement.

            The Lykae seemed not to notice anyone’s reactions.

            Ren asked him, “Where have you come from?” Portal, forest, or village?

            “You could be a dream.” His voice was deep and raspy, his accent a thick Scottish brogue. “The sweetest dream.” He spoke to her as if no one else existed. “Never seen anything so beautiful.”