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Extrait de "Psi-Changeling, Tome 12.1 : Liés par le destin":

Quand le regard sombre et velouté de Revel rencontra le sien, ce n’était pas celui d’un soldat vétéran à une lieutenante, mais celui d’un homme à une femme.

— Tu aurais deux minutes pour une discussion privée ?

— Oui, répondit-elle en sachant qu’il était inutile de reporter cette conversation. Allons dans mon bureau.

Elle avait vu des jeunes traîner sous leur forme lupine un peu plus loin dans le couloir. Ils n’épieraient pas sciemment leur discussion, mais tous les louveteaux avaient de grandes oreilles.

Revel se mit à parler dès qu’ils eurent leur intimité, sa voix grave posée mais puissante.

— Tu ne m’as jamais regardé comme tu regardes Kenji.

Prise de court par cette entrée en matière directe, Garnet rentra le ventre en serrant un poing.

— Tu nous as vus ensemble quelques minutes tout au plus.

L’idée que ses émotions soient aussi flagrantes agaçait sa louve. Garnet les assumerait peut-être une fois la situation résolue, mais, pour le moment, une grande part d’elle était encore en colère contre Kenji. Revel esquissa ce beau et lent sourire qui l’avait toujours attirée… mais pas autant que les yeux verts et le sourire narquois de Kenji.

— Je pensais vraiment qu’on serait bien ensemble, reprit-elle avant qu’il puisse parler. Je ne t’ai pas mené en bateau.

— Je sais. (Il posa une main sur sa joue.) Quant à Kenji et toi, je vous ai aussi vus danser tous les deux à la cérémonie d’union de Hawke.

Sans crier gare, il l’embrassa ; un baiser étonnamment chaud, mouillé et pénétrant, une main lui tenant fermement la mâchoire et la chaleur de son corps assaillant les sens de Garnet.

— Désolé. (Un sourire parfaitement impénitent.) Je devais essayer au moins une fois de te couper le souffle.

— C’est réussi, haleta-t-elle.

Mais même à cet instant, au fond d’elle, elle restait stable et vigilante. Si mignon, intelligent et dangereux soit-il, Revel n’était pas fait pour elle.

— Quand tu m’as proposé qu’on sorte ensemble, expliqua-t-il en la relâchant, je m’étais dit que ce qui a pu exister entre Kenji et toi s’était éteint, mais n’importe qui avec deux sous de jugeote verrait tout de suite que la flamme est toujours aussi forte entre vous. (Il lui caressa la joue du pouce.) Ce que je me demande, c’est pourquoi vous n’êtes pas encore ensemble.

— J’ai mes raisons, se renfrogna-t-elle.

— Si c’est à cause de sa période de coureur de jupons, tu devrais savoir qu’il mène une vie de moine depuis un an.

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Extrait de "Entre chat et loup" (Psi-Changeling, Tome 11.5):

— Salut. (Des pieds bottés apparurent derrière les jeunes pousses qu’il inspectait.) Je m’appelle Desiree.

Félix savait qu’il devrait se montrer poli et se présenter à son tour, mais la domination de Desiree était si écrasante que son loup trembla, prêt à fuir. Peu importe qu’elle soit léopard et non louve, c’était un prédateur bien plus fort que lui et son loup le savait.

Accroupie, elle pencha légèrement la tête sur le côté, faisant cascader ses tresses sur ses épaules, et tenta de croiser son regard.

— Je ne mords pas. Du moins, pas tant qu’on ne me l’a pas demandé.

Il sentit sa peau s’échauffer de nouveau. Bon sang ! il avait été mannequin de haute couture, rencontré un tas de fortes personnalités sans problème. Évidemment, aucune de ces personnes n’avait été une femme léopard d’une beauté extraordinaire qui lui donnait envie de la toucher alors même qu’il savait que c’était une très mauvaise idée. Les dominants mangeaient les soumis comme lui au petit déjeuner et ça ne faisait que leur ouvrir l’appétit pour le repas suivant.

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Extrait de "Dorian" (Psi-Changeling tome 5.1):

Il sourit, car elle avait raison. Après une éternité à vivre coupé de son félin, il n’avait plus à se battre. Ils pouvaient enfin exister. À présent, ce léopard se frottait contre sa peau, à l’intérieur, aussi excité et heureux que lui. Les émotions de l’animal étaient plus sauvages que celles de Dorian, son esprit fonctionnant selon un schéma de pensée beaucoup plus simple.

— Le léopard ne voit pas l’intérêt de ressasser le passé.

Sur ces paroles, il quitta le giron de Shaya et se décala en lui disant :

— Viens t’allonger avec moi.

Lorsqu’elle fut sur le point de se coucher sur la couverture de pique-nique à son côté, Dorian l’attira sur lui. Elle portait un débardeur blanc et un boxer noir qu’elle lui avait piqué, et qui aurait glissé sur ses hanches si elle n’en avait pas resserré l’élastique.

— Et pourquoi n’es-tu pas toute nue ? se plaignit-il après avoir glissé une main à l’arrière du caleçon pour s’emparer de ses superbes fesses.

Lui mordillant la lèvre inférieure, Shaya leva les jambes après avoir rabattu ses boucles derrière ses oreilles dans un vain effort pour les contrôler.

— Parce que nous avons deux petits chaperons très curieux.

Dorian ébaucha un large sourire.

— Ils sont allés se coucher facilement ?

— Ouais. Ils se sont endormis en t’attendant. (Ses yeux bleu-gris dansèrent.) Noor veut te brosser.

Dorian émit un rire guttural.

— J’ai comme l’idée qu’elle va arriver à ses fins. (La meilleure amie de leur fils était une petite adorable qui avait survécu à des premières années de vie atroces, sa douceur et son bon cœur heureusement intacts.) Et Keenan ?

— Il veut partir courir avec toi. (Shaya l’embrassa encore.) Mais si tu préfères être tranquille pour découvrir ton léopard, je peux…

— Non.

Il remonta les mains le long de son dos et les glissa sous son débardeur avec un sourire.

— Le léopard a aussi envie de jouer avec eux. (Il fallait veiller sur les petits, disait le félin, même si ça impliquait de se faire brosser avec une brosse à paillettes rose.) Il a besoin de s’occuper d’eux… il n’a jamais eu l’occasion d’exercer cet instinct.

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Extrait de "L'Echo de Silence" (Psi-Changeling, Tome 2.5):

A des milliers de mètres sous la surface de l'océan, dans les profondeurs du Pacifique, non loin de la fosse des Mariannes, Tazia Nerif regarda par le hublot de la salle de contrôle de la station sous-marine Alaris, et se demanda si les changelings requins existaient réellement.

Andres, le jeune océanographe spécialisé en géologie, venait de passer dix minutes à tenter de l'en convaincre.

-"La prochaine fois que tu te pavaneras toute nue dans ta cabine, avait-il plaisanté, jette un coup d'oeil par le hublot et tu verras ce qui t'observe."

Ingénieure de son métier, Tazia portait un bleu de travail couvert de cambouis et ne s'était jamais pavané de sa vie; a priori, elle ne risquait rien. En admettant qu'Andres ne soit pas en train de se moquer d'elle. Réglant distraitement sa clé anglaise électronique pour sa prochaine tâche, elle décida d'enquêter sur le sujet afin de lui couper l'herbe sous le pied.

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** Extrait offert par Nalini Singh **

Excerpt from “Echo of Silence” - WILD EMBRACE Anthology

By Nalini Singh

Author’s Note: "Echo of Silence" takes place very early on in the series and can be read as a stand alone. This scene is set on the deep-sea station Alaris.

~

Next mail drop, Tazia ensured she was fixing a hydraulic lift on the lowest floor of the station, where no one would come looking for her and where she didn’t have to hear the excited cries and see the beaming smiles of her colleagues as they received care packages or unexpected gifts, or letters that made them shed tears of joy.

“Great,” she muttered when the relay tube turned out to have a hole in it.

“A problem?”

Her back stiffening where she crouched in front of the exposed inner machinery of the lift, she glanced up at Stefan. “Can’t you wear a bell or something?”

“No.”

Of course he didn’t have a sense of humor. Psy never did. She still couldn’t get her mind around the fact that two powerful cardinal Psy, including a gifted foreseer, had recently defected into a changeling pack. How could that possibly work? Changelings were as primal as Psy were cerebral. Like Stefan with his remote gaze and cool words.

“The tube is busted,” she told him. “I missed the last equipment request, so we’ll have to wait till next month.”

“Is it urgent?”

She considered it, aware Stefan was a teleport-capable telekinetic. He could bring in emergency equipment in the space of mere minutes if not seconds, his mind reaching across vast distances in a way she could barely comprehend, but the unspoken rule was that the rest of the station personnel didn’t ask him for anything that wasn’t critical. Everyone knew that if Alaris sprang a fatal pressure leak, they’d need every last ounce of Stefan’s abilities to get them to the surface.

“The other lift is still functional,” she said, hooking her spanner into her tool belt and tapping in the code that meant the computer would bypass this lift until she recorded it as being back online. “We can survive a month.”

He nodded, his dark brown hair military short. Since he wasn’t part of the Psy race’s armed forces, she thought it was because he had curls; Psy hated anything that was out of control. When he continued to loom over her, she rubbed her hands on her thighs and stood up. That didn’t exactly even things out since he was so much taller, but it made her feel better.

He reached out and gripped a lock of hair that had escaped her ponytail. “Grease.”

Rolling her eyes, she pulled it out of his grasp. “Was there anything else you wanted?”

“It appears I made a mistake last month in telling you no letter or package would come.”

Pain in her heart, her throat. “No, I needed to hear that.”

“However, instead of having you snap at everyone for two days a month, you’re now so quiet that people are becoming concerned.”

Tazia remembered how Andres had been poking at her this morning, trying to make her smile with those silly jokes of his. But he was her friend. Stefan was nothing. “I’m not Psy,” she said point-blank. “I can’t ignore hurt or forget that my family hates me.”

He didn’t flinch. “You knew that before. What changed?”

“You took away my hope.”

There was a small silence that seemed to reverberate with a thousand unspoken things. For a single instant captured in time, she thought she saw a fracture in his icy composure, a hint of something unexpected in those eyes she’d always thought were beautiful despite their coldness.

Then a tool fell off Tazia’s belt and she bent to grab it off the floor. By the time she rose, Stefan was gone. Just as well, she thought, though there was a strange hollowness in her stomach. She wasn’t some bug under a microscope for him to study. She was a flesh-and-blood human being with hopes and dreams and emotions. Maybe those emotions made her heart heavy with sorrow and her soul hurt, but she would never choose to erase them in the way of Stefan’s people.

What use was it to have such power if you saw no beauty in a child’s smile or in the sea’s turbulent moods? If you didn’t understand friendship or laughter? No, she’d rather feel, even if it hurt so much she could hardly breathe through it at times.

© Copyright 2016 by Nalini Singh

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That was because he’d been her friend, who she knew didn’t mean anything by it. The same way she’d affectionately called him Beanpole when he first got his height. By eighteen, the muscle had caught up with the height and he’d been gorgeous. “Jesus, Kenji, Britney was a first-class bitch.” Garnet wasn’t about to pull her punches. “She got her kicks from picking on younger girls.”

“It’s not like you couldn’t handle her.”

She’d still been a teenage girl with the attendant fragile ego . . . and she’d been carrying around a truck-sized crush on her older brother’s best friend. The same friend who was standing in front of her right now. “Whatever. I lost all respect for you the day you hooked up with her.”

His mouth fell open. “I was a teenage boy!” he reiterated. “She had boobs out to here and legs up to there and she thought I was the best thing since sliced bread!”

Garnet had apple-sized breasts, if she was being generous, and, given her height, her legs were never going to be a supermodel’s. Baring her teeth and folding her arms across her chest, she smirked. “All. Respect. Lost.” She leaned toward him. “Poof.”

“Yeah?” Suddenly belligerent, he got in her face. “What about you? Dating No-Brains Bacon?”

Seeing red, she pushed at his chest. “His name was Barton, and he was a nice guy!”

“Who had a lot of space inside his skull. Must’ve been all the knocks he took on the football field.”

Garnet refused to admit that sweet Barton had, in fact, been a little intellectually challenged. “At least he knew how to handle a real woman.”

Kenji’s growl made her own chest rumble in challenge. “You were fucking fifteen when he moved on you,” he gritted out. “I should’ve done more than punch out his lights.”

Garnet’s eyes went wolf. “That was you?” Barton had broken things off with her without warning, after turning up with a black eye he’d shrugged off as a training injury.

Kenji’s muscles bunched. “He was a fucking senior and you were—”

Garnet plowed her fist into Kenji’s face, slamming his head sideways.

He jerked, one hand going to his jaw. “What the fuck, Garnet?”

“That was for Barton,” she said, her breath ragged. “And for me. Thanks to you, I had to go stag to the junior dance.”

His eye already looking like it might blacken, causing a twinge of remorse in her gut, Kenji said, “Better than you being taken advantage of by a guy who should’ve known better.”

Furious heat flooded her face, wiping out all traces of remorse. “I knew what I was doing.”

“Fifteen!” Kenji said again, his voice more growl than sound. “And you still looked like a kid. He was a fucking deviant.”

“I had boobs!” She shoved her hands under those boobs. “Just because you go for balloon-sized tits doesn’t mean anyone who dates me is a deviant!”

Eyes flicking up from her breasts, Kenji growled low in his throat. “That’s not what I said.”

“Yeah? Sure sounded like it.”

“God damn it, Garnet, I—” No warning, just his strong, beautiful hands thrusting into her hair and his mouth slamming down on hers.

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What she had to remember was that it had also saved her.

It would’ve been far worse had she ended up with Kenji only for him to walk away a short time later when another woman caught his eye. Because, unlike him, she’d been weaving dreams of a permanent relationship, perhaps even a mating if they were lucky. “How’s Britney?” she said instead of dwelling on the lost dreams of the girl she’d been.

“Britney?” Dull confusion in the green eyes that were a throwback to his paternal great-grandmother. Then a light sparked. “Britney Matthews?”

Claws pricking at her palms, she smiled sweetly. “You know any other Britneys you banged like a drum?”

A hot red burn on the high planes of his cheekbones. “That was a lifetime ago. I was eighteen! You’re mad about that?” He shook his head, eyebrows drawing together. “I thought you—”

Garnet cut him off before he could mention the night they’d never spoken about, never would speak about; there wasn’t anything to say. Kenji had led her on, stolen her heart, then kicked her to the curb, the end. But they did have other things to discuss, because now that she’d brought up Britney, she was mad. Maybe it was the alcohol talking, but she had things to say to Kenji “Casanova” Tanaka about his taste in women.

“You knew how awful she was to me, how she made my life a living hell, and you not only took her to prom, you dated her for a year!”

A befuddled expression on his face. “I know you two didn’t like each other, but I thought it was, you know, girl stuff.”

“Girl stuff?” Was he really that clueless? “She tried to make my nickname Runt.” The only reason it hadn’t caught on was that pretty much all her friends and packmates already called her Jem, and she had enough dominance even at sixteen to scare most people into shutting the hell up before they used anything else.

Kenji had always called her Garnet. He’d just liked it.

As she’d liked hearing her given name on his lips.

“I thought she was just messing with you when she said that.” He scowled. “You never minded when I called you Short Stuff.”

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She liked the way he wore it now, how it was just long enough to hint at rebellion, the strands thick and silky.

“Going to the lake?” he asked, green eyes locked on her.

Putting a half meter of distance between them because she knew it wasn’t a good idea to be alone with gorgeous, teasing Kenji Tanaka when she’d had a drink or three and her inhibitions were lowered, she said, “Going to the lake—to be alone.”

He closed the distance that separated them. His boots touched her bare toes, he was so close—and neither part of her changeling nature would allow her to give way now that he’d pushed. Not moving her feet an inch, she tipped back her head to look him in the eyes.

He frowned, stepped back. “Sorry. I keep forgetting you’re shorter than me.”

She couldn’t figure out if that was a compliment or an insult. “I’m leaving now. Don’t follow me.”

“You sure can hold on to a mad, Garnet,” he said when she would’ve turned away. “Like an elephant holds on to its memories.” His voice was playful, light, as they’d been with each other for so long now.

“Go away,” she said again, a staggering sense of loss echoing inside her. No, she ordered herself, you do not go there. Kenji’s and her time had come and gone. No second chances, not when Kenji had shown her exactly how badly he could hurt her if she opened her heart to him.

And not when the man he’d become was nothing like the smart, laughing boy with whom she’d once fallen in love. Kenji was a great lieutenant, a packmate she could rely on in a crunch and one who made her roll her eyes with his outrageous flirting, but he didn’t know the meaning of commitment when it came to women.

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Her wolf rising to the surface of her skin on the memory, she growled low in her throat. “Go away, Kenji.” There was no need to raise her voice—his hearing was as good as her own, and he was close. He must’ve stayed upwind to sneak up on her.

“Why do you have to be like that?” he said, prowling out of the trees to fall into step beside her, tall and graceful and with the handsome features of a Japanese pop star. All clean angles and dramatic bones. That his slightly overlong hair was dyed a rich purple and sprayed with tiny golden stars only added to the effect.

She’d have thought it an affectation, except that he’d been doing things like that since he was a kid too young to think about being cool. As a seven-year-old, he’d once drawn “tattoos” on himself with permanent marker.

Then there was the time he’d painted his hair with house paint. She could still remember his shaved head afterward—it had been the only way his parents could be sure to strip off every bit of the toxic paint, as shifting might’ve redistributed the paint all through his wolf fur. They’d been more distressed than Kenji. He’d asked the barber to cut zigzag patterns into the resulting stubble.

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Author’s Note: This excerpt is from the prologue and takes place at Hawke and Sienna’s mating ceremony, when Kenji ended up with a black eye. Here’s how.

Garnet was enjoying the brilliantly clear mountain night and trying not to think about a certain man and how damn good he’d felt against her during their dance, when she caught the scent of oak and fire and something intensely masculine. A scent that had surrounded her a half hour before, when Kenji broke into her dance with another SnowDancer lieutenant. She’d caught it on her skin afterward, a silent, aggravating taunt.

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