What the Heart Haunts
Chapter One
    Nalla didn’t do blind dates. Especially not
on a night where the Hunt was riding her strong. They’d run
tonight, she could feel it all the way down to her toes. She
clenched her fingers around the beer in her hand and tried not to
remember the thrum of magic pulsing down her spine, the wild bays
of Hounds filling her ears. She blew out a sharp breath and wished,
not for the hundredth time, that she had a god to pray to for
strength.
    She was tired of fighting it all alone.
    But Herne would no more accept her prayers.
She lifted the bottle and drank a deep swallow, trying to let the
alcohol burn away the call of the beast inside her. Her Hound had
never understood, never would. Exile didn’t sit right with a dog
who’d happily curl back up at her master’s feet.
    “Nalla, right?” A tall, bushy haired man said
as he slipped into the booth across from her; brown hair fell
across his eyes in waves. It hung nearly to his chin, messy.
Scruffy.
    And a dark knowledge curled up her spine at
the sight of him. His eerie gold eyes were the same flash of a
wolf’s at midnight, with nothing but the moonlight reflecting in
that haunting gaze. A Hound of the Hunt. She knew it by the
dog-like rumble of his voice, the answering wild in his eyes. The
way her beast clamored in her breast, trying to break free. Run,
run, run , it screamed at her, in deep, baying barks that told
her she’d been banished from the sky for too long if her control
was this far gone.
    Her lips pursed and she fought the urge to
get up and walk out of the bar, leaving him sitting there alone.
She should have known this was a set up. “And what would you have
of me?”
    He looked startled, gold eyes flashing
slightly as he glanced around. Finally, his focus settled back on
her. “You are Nalla Underwood, right?”
    Nalla froze, her breath locked tight in her
chest. He didn’t know. Oh. She exhaled on a rush. Her fingertips
itched to reach across the table and run over the strong line of
his jaw, down his neck, to press that black shirt against his chest
and feel the muscles she knew she’d find there. He was a Hound, an
actual Hound of the Wild Hunt, sitting in front of her. She’d never
thought she’d see that again. She bit down on her bottom lip and
held herself back.
    Why had Herne sent a clueless pup down to
her? Or was this one nothing but a stray?
    Either way, tonight she could have what she
hadn’t had since her exile. The thought made her wet her lips,
moisture pooling between her thighs. It would be the closest thing
to a true Running that she’d had in a good, long while.
    “I am. I’m guessing you’re my date?” Nalla
tipped her beer up at the waitress as the woman passed, “I’ll take
another.” Nalla flicked her gaze to him.
    He shook his head. “Just water for me.”
    “So your name is?”
    “Uh. Khost. Khost Wylde.”
    She almost smiled. He had to be from Herne;
she hadn’t heard that last name passed around in awhile. Normally,
if a Hound was sent down to bargain with a human, they used that
name. It wasn’t something a pup that had wandered loose from the
pack would know. Khost . She let the name roll around in her
brain. Ethereal. Breathy. Like the wind unleashed on a night made
for a good Hunt.
    Nalla wondered if he would miss running with
the Hunts, because he wasn’t going back. Not after tonight.
    She let the barest hint of a smile curve her
lips. “Pleasure to meet you. You’ll have to forgive me, I don’t
normally do the blind date gig.” He blushed a little and she
laughed. Yeah. She hadn’t taken him for much of a dater either.
    Then again, Herne never had liked his Hounds
courting...well anyone.
    Hounds of the Wild Hunt couldn’t have mixed
loyalties and sex had a tendency to cloud judgment. She’d know.
After all, it was that particular sin that had gotten her lover
beheaded with Herne’s axe and her sentenced to exile among the
mortals. It’d been a hellish four hundred years too. Alone in

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