I revealed the cover of Tangle of Need a while back and I have to admit that I really do not like it. I prefer the cover that will be used for the US version.
Tangle of Need
Discover the exhilarating risks of passion in the breathtaking new Psy-Changeling novel by Nalini Singh, the New York Times bestselling “alpha author of paranormal romance”
Adria, wolf changeling and resilient soldier, has made a break with the past—one as unpredictable in love as it was in war. Now comes a new territory, and a devastating new complication: Riaz, a SnowDancer lieutenant already sworn to a desperate woman who belongs to another.
For Riaz, the primal attraction he feels for Adria is a staggering betrayal. For Adria, his dangerous lone-wolf appeal is beyond sexual. It consumes her. It terrifies her. It threatens to undermine everything she has built of her new life. But fighting their wild compulsion toward one another proves a losing battle.
Their coming together is an inferno…and a melding of two wounded souls who promise each other no commitment, no ties, no bonds. Only pleasure. Too late, they realize that they have more to lose than they ever imagined. Drawn into a cataclysmic Psy war that may alter the fate of the world itself, they must make a decision that might just break them both.
Excerpt from Nalini’s website.
Advance Excerpt from Tangle of Need. Because this is such an early excerpt, there are likely to be changes in the final text.
Riaz caught a flash of midnight hair and a long-legged stride and called out, “Indigo!” However he realized his mistake the instant he turned the corner. “Adria.”
Eyes of deepest blue met his, the frost in them threatening to give him hypothermia. “Indigo’s in her office.” The words were helpful but the tone might as well have been a serrated blade.
That did it. “Did I kill your dog?”
Frown lines marred her smooth forehead. “Excuse me?”
God, that tone. “It’s the only reason,” he said, holding onto his temper by a very thin thread, “I can think of to explain why you’re so damn pissy with me.” Adria had been pulled into den territory during the hostilities with Councilor Henry Scott and his Pure Psy army a month ago, had remained behind to take up a permanent position as a senior soldier. She had fought with focused determination by Riaz’s side, followed his orders on the field without hesitation.
However, off the field?
Folding his arms when she didn’t reply, he stepped into her personal space, caught the subtle scent of crushed berries and frost. A strangely delicate scent for this hardass of a woman, he thought, before his wolf’s anger overrode all else. “You haven’t answered my question.” It came out a growl.
Eyes narrowed, she stepped closer with a slow deliberation that was pure, calculated provocation. She was a tall woman, but he was taller. That didn’t seem to stop her from looking down her nose at him. “I didn’t realize,” she said in a voice so polite it drew blood, “that fawning over you was part of the job requirement.”
“Now I know where Indigo learned her mean face from.” But where his fellow lieutenant’s heart beat warm and generous beneath that tough exterior, he wasn’t sure Adria had any emotions that registered above zero on the thermometer.
Adria’s response was scalpel sharp. “I don’t know what she ever saw in you, but I suppose every woman has mistakes in her past.” The slightest change in her expression, the tiniest fracture, before it was sealed up again, her face an impenetrable rockface.
Scowling, Riaz was about to tell her exactly what he thought of her and her judgmental gaze when his cell phone rang. He answered without moving an inch away from the woman who was sandpaper across his temper, rubbing him raw with her mere presence. “Yeah?”
“My office,” Hawke said. “Need you to head out to check on something.”
“Be there in two.” Snapping the phone shut, he closed the remaining distance between them, forcing Adria to tip back her head. “We will,” he said, realizing those striking blue eyes with an edge of purple had streaks of gold running through them, beautiful and exotic, “continue this later.”
That was when Adria’s cell phone rang. “Yes?” she answered without breaking eye-contact with the big, muscled wolf who thought he could intimidate her.
“In my office,” Hawke ordered.
“On my way.” Hanging up, she raised an eyebrow at Riaz in a consciously insolent action. “My alpha has requested my presence, so get out of my fucking way,” she said with utmost sweetness.
Eyes a brilliant dark gold that were more wolf than human, narrowed again. “Guess we’ll be walking together.”
Not giving an inch until he stepped back and turned to head to Hawke’s office, she walked in silence beside him, though her wolf bared its teeth, hungry to draw blood, to bite and claw and mark. Damn him. Damn him. She’d been doing fine, coping after her final separation from Martin. That had been a bloody battle, too.
“You’ll come crawling back to me. Maybe I’ll be waiting. Maybe I won’t.”
Adria bit back a raw laugh. Martin didn’t understand that it was over. Done. Forever. It had been over the night a year ago when he’d stormed out of their home, not to return for four months. The truly stunning thing was that he’d had the gall to be shocked when she’d told him to go find someplace else to sleep and slammed the door in his face.
“Cat got your tongue?” An acerbic comment made in a deep male voice that ruffled her fur the wrong way.
“Go bite yourself,” she muttered, in no mood to play games. Her skin felt too sensitive, as if she’d lost a protective layer, her blood too hot.
“Someone should bite you,” Riaz muttered. “Pull that stick out of your ass at the same time.”
Adria growled, just as they reached the open door to Hawke’s office. The alpha looked up at their entrance, unhidden speculation in blue eyes so pale, they were those of a wolf given human form. However, when he spoke, his words were pragmatic. “You two free to go for a drive?”
Adria nodded, saw Riaz do the same. “What do you need done?” Riaz asked.
“Mack and one of his trainee techs went up to do a routine service of the hydro station,” Hawke told them, “but their vehicle’s not starting, and they’ve got components that need to be brought back to the den for repairs.”
“No problem,” Riaz said. “I’ll take one of the SUVs, pick them up.”
Even as Adria was thinking the task was a one-person job, Hawke turned to her. “You’re now one of the most senior people in the den.” His dominance was staggering, demanding her wolf’s absolute attention. “I’d like you to get reacquainted with the region, given that you haven’t spent an extended period of time here since you turned eighteen.”
She nodded. Ranking just below the lieutenants in the hierarchy, senior soldiers were often called upon to lead, and as a leader she had to know every inch of this land, not just the section she’d been assigned to during the battle. “It’d be better if I do it on foot.”
“You can explore in detail later on.” Hawke pushed back strands of hair that had fallen over his forehead, the color a distinctive silver-gold that echoed his coat in wolf form. “I want you to have a good working knowledge of the area as soon as possible.” He handed her a thin plas map. “The trip up to the hydro station will take you through some critical sections—and you have certification in mechanics, correct?”
“Yes.” It had been an interest she’d turned into the secondary qualification all soldiers were required to possess. “I’ll take a look at the vehicle.”
“What about the replanting?” Riaz asked, his voice clawing over her skin like nails on one of those old-fashioned chalkboards the pups liked to draw on. “Felix’s team have enough security?”
“They’re fine.” Walking to the territorial map on the stone wall of his office, Hawke tapped a large cross-hatched section below what had been SnowDancer’s defensive line in the fight against Pure Psy. “Felix’s volunteers and conscripts”—a sharp grin—“are planting the area with fast-growing natives, but for now, it’s so open it’s easy to monitor, especially with the cats sharing the watch.”
Adria thought of what she’d seen on that battlefield filled with the screams of wounded SnowDancers; the cold amber and red of a flame so hypnotic and deadly, and wondered at the cost paid by the young Psy woman who held all that power—and their alpha’s heart. “What are the chances of another Pure Psy attack?” she asked, intrigued on the innermost level by a relationship that appeared so very unbalanced out the outside, and yet one that was as solid as the stone of the den.
It was Riaz who answered. “According to Judd’s sources, close to nil. They’ve got worse problems.”
“Civil war,” Hawke said, shaking his head. “If he’s right, there’ll be no avoiding the impact—so we make sure we’re prepared to weather any storms.”
Nodding in agreement, she left the office with the man whose very scent—dark, woodsy, with a sharp citrus tone—made her skin itch. “We should get some food.” The drive wouldn’t be quick, plus Mack and his tech had probably not planned to be up there this long either, would be hungry.
“Should be something in here,” Riaz said, walking into the senior soldiers’ break room.
They worked with honed efficiency to slap together some sandwiches, and were ready to go ten minutes later. Clenching her abdominal muscles as she got into the vehicle with Riaz, Adria told herself to focus on the route, the geography, anything but the potent, masculine scent of the man in the driver’s seat…because she knew full well why he incited such violence in her.
* * *
Riaz drove them out of the garage, and into the mountains, very aware of the cool silence of the woman with him. The more time he spent with her, the more he realized how unlike Indigo she was, in spite of the superficial similarity of their looks. One of the reasons he’d always enjoyed the other woman’s company was her upfront nature—Adria, by comparison, was a closed box, with “Do not enter” signs pasted on every surface.
He understood that. Hell, he had his own “no go” zones, but with Adria, it was armor of broken glass that drew blood. “This track,” he said, doing his job because personality clash or not, he knew his responsibilities, “is the most direct route to the hydro station.”
“Not according to the map Hawke gave me.” A quick, penetrating glance. “So what’s wrong with the other road?”
Man and wolf both appreciated her intelligence, something neither part of him had ever doubted, even when she was slicing into him with her verbal claws. “Sheer cliff face right in the middle.”
Making two tight turns, he continued onward. “Meant to delay any aggressors if they ever get that far.”
Adria didn’t say anything for several long minutes, studying the map and their passage into the mountains. “I’ll need to request another senior soldier go with me on some of my exploratory trips, so I don’t miss things like that.”
“I’ll take you,” Riaz said, because damn it, he was a lieutenant, even when it came to a prickly piece of cactus like Adria. “Indigo made sure I was familiar with the details after I came back from my posting in Europe. It’ll be good for me to go over the knowledge.”
Adria blinked, taken by surprise. “I appreciate it.” It was the only thing she could say without giving everything away.
Riaz snorted, his hands strong and competent on the manual steering wheel as he navigated a particularly steep embankment. “About as much as you appreciate a root canal, but whatever your problem with me, we have to work together.”
Setting her jaw, she focused on the view beyond the window—of the most magnificent scenery on this earth. Summer was fading, though autumn hadn’t yet arrived, and the land was swathed in dark green, the peaks in the distance touched with white.
A flash of movement.
“Who’s that?” She jerked forward to watch a big tan-colored wolf race across a meadow to the left, chasing a sleek silver wolf she immediately recognized. “He’s being rough with Evie.” Fury boiled in her blood. “Stop the car.”
Riaz’s chuckle held pure male amusement, fuel to her temper. “That’s Tai, and Evie won’t appreciate the interruption, Aunt Adria.”
Biting back her harsh response, Adria glanced at the two wolves again, saw what she’d missed at first glance. They were playing, all teeth and claws, but with no real aggression to it. Just as Riaz turned a corner, cutting off the view, the two wolves nuzzled one another and Adria realized Tai and Evie weren’t just playing, they were courting. “She’s too young.” While Indigo was very close to Adria in age, Evie was much younger.
“She’s still a wolf, an adult female wolf,” Riaz said, pushing the car into hover drive to negotiate a damaged section of the road. “You might have forgotten Ms. Frost, but touch is necessary for most of our kind.”
Her hand fisted, that nerve far too close to the surface.
It had been a year since she’d been in a sexual relationship, a rawly painful kind of isolation for a wolf in the prime of her life. But she’d been handling it, until Riaz and the raging storm of a sudden, visceral sexual attraction that terrified her.
“If we’re throwing stones,” she said, protecting herself by going on the offensive, “I’m not the only one who prefers a cold bed.” Riaz was a highly eligible male—the fact he’d taken no lovers was a point of irritation with the women who wanted nothing better than to tussle with him. “Maybe that’s why you’re such a prick.”
Riaz’s snarl was low, rolling over her skin with the power of his dominance. Wrenching the wheel, he brought the SUV to a stop on the side of the road. “I’ve had it.” Turning off the engine, he turned to her. “What the hell is your problem with me?”
“Drive,” she said, almost ready to crawl out of her skin with the need to rip off his T-shirt and use her teeth on all that hot, firm muscle. “Mack is waiting for us.”
“He can wait a few more minutes.” Golden eyes that were no longer in any way human slammed into hers. “You’ve had a hard-on for me since you transferred to the den. I want to know why.”
Gut twisting, she snapped off her safety belt and pushed open her door to step out into the cold mountain air. The chill did nothing to cool the fever in her blood, the need ravaging her body, threatening to make her a slave when she’d finally found freedom. Desperate, she concentrated on the majesty of her surroundings in an effort to fight the tumult inside her. In front of her lay tumbled glacial rocks, huge and imposing, beyond them the dark green of the firs that dominated this area. Above it all was a sky so blue it hurt.
The slam of a door, followed by the thud of boots on the earth shattered her fragile attempt at control, and then Riaz was standing in front of her, blocking the view. “We are not leaving,” he said, his bronzed skin caressed by the sunlight that gilded his hair a gleaming blue-black, “until we work this out.”
Feeling trapped, suffocated, she shoved at his chest and slipped out to stand beside the car rather than with her back to it. “I’m not the only one who has a problem. You’ve been picking at me since the day I was pulled into the den.”
He growled and the rough sound rasped over her nipples, wrapped around her throat. “Self-fucking-defense. You took one look at me and decided you hated my guts. I want to know why.”
Jesus, Adria thought, how had she gotten herself into this? “Look,” she said, deciding to back down before her wolf took control and she found herself feasting on male lips currently thin with anger, “it’s nothing personal. I’m generally a bitch.” According to Martin, she was one with a stone heart.
“Nice try”—a harsh laugh that held nothing of humor—“but I’ve seen you with others in the pack.” He took another step toward her, invading her space and her senses.
Hell if she was going to allow him to walk all over her. “Get out of my face.”
“You sure you want me to?” he asked, a dangerous look to him. “Maybe the reason you react like a hissing cat around me is because you want me even closer.”
She sucked in a breath.
Riaz’s eyes widened.
Publish date: 29 May 2012