Home > Blackwing Defender (Kane's Mountains #1)(4)

Blackwing Defender (Kane's Mountains #1)(4)
Author: T.S. Joyce

With a sigh, the man stood. And stood and stood because he was as tall as a mountain. “Don’t show anybody your neck, kitty. You don’t have an alpha here. Not yet.”

As he walked to the other side and gave her some space, she straightened her neck back out, shook her head hard, and sucked in a deep breath of relief. Two of the men across the circle inched away from the monster bear and then stood and slunk away from him completely. He was massive, but not in the physical sense. He felt everywhere, as if he took up every air molecule, every inch of space, and she hadn’t even looked at his face yet. How had he been the last one she noticed? How had he hidden until she’d sat down beside him? There was nothing more terrifying than a monster so easily disguised.

She could see him out of her peripheral, could feel him watching her, but fuck if she was going to be the prey. Swallowing down her yellow-bellied fear, Winter dragged her gaze to his. She froze at the breathtaking, masculine beauty of the man. Tall, yes, broad shouldered, yes, but his face gave her such an odd sense of déjà vu, even though she’d never laid eyes on him in her life. She would’ve remembered. His hair was dark brown, matching the scruff on his chiseled jaw. It was his eyes that held her though—dark, broody, hard, seeming to take in everything with a glance. Right now, he could’ve been looking straight through to her soul. His dark brows lowered slightly, and he took a step back, angled his chin down, and looked at her suspiciously. “Do I know you?” he asked in that deep velvet voice of his.

Winter forced her attention anywhere else other than his mesmerizing eyes. It was cool outside, but the man wore a dark gray T-shirt with forest green writing too faded to read the logo. Black tattoo ink trailed down one arm, while the other was bare and tan as though he’d spent a lot of time outdoors. He crossed his arms over his defined chest and murmured, “I’m Logan.”

Logan. He even had a sexpot name. It was perfect for a man who was pretending to be normal when his inner animal clearly was not. More camouflage.

“Winter,” she said with a nod.

“Winter?” Logan asked. “You a snow leopard?”

She huffed an uncomfortable breath. The real story was her mom was probably high as a kite when she named a black panther cub Winter. These strangers hadn’t earned real stories though, so they could have the surface one instead—the one Mom had told her when she’d been slumped over in a corner with a needle hanging out of her arm. “I was born during a blizzard. So…Winter.”

“Names?” Long Hair asked. “We’re finally doing introductions? We’ve been sitting here for three hours, and it takes this haggard-lookin’ chick to get us to open up.”

The giant scar-faced man beside him snarled and snapped his teeth at Long Hair like a psychopath, but the smaller man only ducked out of the way and lifted two fingers. “Dustin Porter, the next and best member of the Blackwing Crew.”

The goth girl snorted and leaned back on locked arms. “Look around, Fido. The dragons aren’t going to choose everyone. They’ll pick ten, maybe. Hate to be the one to crush your dreams, but you wouldn’t make the shortlist.”

“Fido? So you guessed what I am… What are you? Make an actual introduction, Princess Emo, or I can guess all the animals here. I’m good at this.” Dustin sniffed the air and jerked his attention to the goliath beside him. “You’re a werepussy for sure.”

The giant let off a low rumble and neatly collected Dustin’s neck in his clenched fist.

“Pussy as in a cat! A big cat shifter,” Dustin wheezed out, then gasped as the titan released him. “Fuck,” he muttered rubbing his throat. “You almost popped my head off like a champagne cork.”

The giant curled his lips back over his teeth and offered Dustin a feral look before he gave them all his back again. “People call me Beast. And fuck your labels. You don’t know me.”

There was a loaded moment of silence before Logan saved them all from the awkwardness. “I’m a bear.”

“Yeah, I think we could all tell that,” Winter muttered.

“Not her,” Dustin said, pointing to the quiet girl with the hearing aids. “She smells pretty fuckin’ human to me. Here for a pity-bite, love? I don’t think the dragon will stand for it.”

“Hey, she could be a flight shifter,” the goth girl said.

“Emma, human,” the girl clarified carefully in a thick voice. She rolled her fist, flipped off Dustin, and then went back to scribbling in her journal after she fiddled with the little device on her right ear.

“Did you just turn off your hearing aid?” Dustin asked in an offended tone.

Winter snorted. She liked the human already.

When she looked up at Logan, he was showing the first signs of a smile. She bet the monster was beautiful when he let a real grin rip.

A car horn blasted, and the crowd parted like the red sea as a jacked-up pickup truck approached. One redheaded muscle-bound titan was yelling out the window, “Out the way before I run you over!” Air Ryder Croy pointed to some brownnoser who had actually worn cut-off shorts for extra points. “I like your shorts. Move! Oh, wait!” He rocked to a stop and leaned farther into his truck, then reappeared at the open window and flung a stack of papers into the air. They rained down like giant white snowflakes. “Applications! Fill them out! Oh, here’s a pen.” He chucked a single pen out the window into the surging crowd.

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