Authors: Aline Hunter
“No you don’t,” he snarled and thrust his fingers into her. “Give it to me.”
His lips trapped her swollen clit and he sucked the nub into this mouth.
One hard lick was all it took to send her over.
Ecstasy rushed through her, a growing ball of sensation spreading through her like wildfire. She rode the waves of pleasure, flying just as Wolfe said she would. The back of her throat went dry and her fangs dropped. She tried to reach for her lover, starved for the taste of his blood. He didn’t lift his head, tapping his tongue against her clit. As soon as he saw her teeth, he released her ass and placed one of his large hands against her abdomen.
The hunger raged, furious at being denied, demanding satiation.
She’d never been so thirsty, drawn to Wolfe’s scent, fascinated by his power. Ceramic plaster and molding disintegrated beneath her hands, crumbling to pieces as she tightened her grip. The glorious pulls of his mouth continued, leaving her a mass of quivering muscle and syrupy bones. To her shock, the desire for blood ebbed as her climax ended and her fangs slowly retracted. She sagged against the mirror and released the demolished counter.
Wolfe eased his lips from her clit, humming in pleasure. “I was right,
.” He brought her legs to his waist and covered her body like a blanket, bringing them chest-to-chest.
She cleared her throat to ask, “Right?”
“You’re gorgeous when you come.”
The intimate moment ended, brought to an abrupt stop when a blaring screech came from the living room. The afterglow of sexual release vanished. Common sense returned with a good dose of self-preservation. The alarm didn’t activate unless her home had been tainted by something malevolent. The banshee enchantment Trevor had crafted ensured it. Someone was in her home. Someone knew she was there.
We were followed.
“Son of a bitch!” she snarled.
“What’s that noise?” Wolfe frowned, trapping her between his body and the mirror.
“Get dressed,” she ordered and shoved him hard enough to show she meant business. When he backed away, she jumped from the counter. Bending down, she gathered his clothes and tossed them to him. His eyes narrowed and the irises changed color, going from dark green to an almost neon color.
“Don’t waste your temper on me.” She presented Wolfe with a seething glare of her own. “Save it for whatever trespassed on my property and is coming up the stairs.”
Before he could question her, she rushed across the hall and into the bedroom. The closet beckoned as she hurried inside. She didn’t worry about fashion, sliding into the first set of bra and panties she pulled from the oak dresser. Once she had them on, she dove into the racks for a fresh pair of leathers and a black turtleneck. She pulled on her socks and slid into her favorite worn boots.
Wolfe’s large body suddenly appeared in the doorway. He had gotten dressed but his clothing was wrinkled. She lowered her gaze when she saw his crotch. A huge erection tented his slacks. No wonder he was scowling at her.
“What the fuck is going on?”
The way he posed the question told her he wasn’t going to accept a half-ass answer.
She sighed, turned away from him and walked to the safe at the back of the closet.
“I hunt people down and kill some of them for a living, which means I have a lot of enemies. I’ve been walking around with a price on my head for decades.” With a sideways glance at him, she continued, “Under normal circumstances, I cover my tracks so I don’t have unexpected guests. Thanks to you and Trevor, I’m going to have to play hostess before I find another place to call home.”
Pressing the numerical keypad, she opened the safe and collected a shoulder holster. She slid the leather straps over her arms and returned for a pair of Berettas. She checked each chamber and magazine before she engaged the safety and put them in their proper places.
“Who are your enemies, Arden?”
She jumped when she felt his breath against her ear, unaware he’d moved. “I can’t be certain,” she answered, annoyed for dropping her guard. “I’ve pissed off just about every creature on earth. Humans, vampyren, vampires, demons, witches, warlocks, ghouls, zombies, Chimera, you name it. Anyone or anything could be coming up to say hello.”
His hands rested on her shoulders and he applied enough pressure to force her to turn around. It was so unnerving being this close to him. Aside from Trevor, no one had worried about her like this in years. She hesitated before she looked into Wolfe’s face. His fangs were different than hers, both upper and lower canines long and lethal.
“I won’t let anything touch you,” he vowed, staring her in the eye.
“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that,” she whispered and lifted a hand to his cheek.
Her heart skipped a beat as she gazed into his eyes. Nausea rose, coming on strong as her stomach knotted in fear. They’d only known each other for a matter of hours, but she feared losing him. It didn’t make sense, but she couldn’t lie to herself. The worst-case scenario had never bothered her before, but it did now. There was too much on the line.
If something happens to him because of me…
The shrill sound from the living room changed, much louder as the walls started to vibrate. Whoever had trespassed was inside now. Although it wasn’t easy, she managed to move away and snatch a pair of clips from the wall. Once they were safe and sound in her back pockets, she grabbed a pair of sunglasses and put them on.
He followed her as she left the closet and strode across the room to the window. She didn’t bother with the drapes, ripping them right from the wall. A loud crash resonated from the other end of the apartment.
No more time. We have to get out.
Measuring the distance, she stepped back and spun around. One kick broke through glass and shattered the pane. Dark shapes flittered in her peripheral vision and she heard a horrible snarl. Spinning around, she faced her enemies. At first, she assumed the noise came from the three-headed Cerberus that stood several feet away, with muzzles strong enough to break bones and rip off limbs. She was shocked that someone would take the risk of summoning a hound from the gates of Hades just to kill her. The beastly animal relied purely on instinct, driven to kill. Nothing could deter it.
Then she saw the creature beside her.
Instead of facing the unknown as a man, Wolfe had transformed to greet their visitor. He was as large as a pony, with broad shoulders and an enormous head. His clothing was in tatters, resting at his feet. She glanced down.
His paws were the size of dinner plates. His glossy black fur rippled as he shifted his muscular shoulders. He never turned to look at her, keeping his eyes straight ahead as his low growl filled the room.
The Cerberus moved and Wolfe pounced on the creature. His massive jaws went for the throat of one of the heads. When he had a hold of his target, she heard the horrific crunch of bone. The second head snapped at Wolfe’s shoulder along with the third, their sharp teeth sinking into his flesh.
She went for her Berettas but stopped when a dull pain penetrated her back. Thrown off balance, she threw her weight to the right. Her glasses slid off her nose, slipped from her ears and skittered across the floor. Another pain—this one far worse—almost set her on her ass. Blood splattered as a bullet exited her torso and landed in the wall across from her.
Wolfe’s bray of fury seemed far away.
She spun toward the window and aimed.
Son of a bitch, the Cerberus is a decoy.
She’d been so caught up in getting Wolfe away that she hadn’t even considered it.
She got a shot off before another bullet hit her in the chest. She staggered at the impact, dropping to her knees. The rotten odor coming from her wound told her she was good and fucked. She pressed a hand against the area, got her palm coated in the bloody mess and lifted it to her face. Her heart sank when she saw her blood streaked with black.
The horrible stench of burning flesh and scorched sulfur made her gag. She shoved her fingers inside the wound, ripping through the torn tissue. The gold round embedded above her left breast wouldn’t kill her, but the demon magic attached to it certainly would. She could feel poison spreading from the wound, the promise of death corroding her system.
The tips of her fingers butted against the white hot metal and she bit her lip to remain quiet. She watched Wolfe through a thin veil of tears as he worked on the third head of the beast he’d yet to kill. He’d obviously wanted to come to her, more than likely able to smell her blood when she was hit. Gashes marked his hind legs and rear, as though the Cerebus had torn into him when he’d tried to break away.
He’s fine. Take care of yourself. Get the fucking bullet out!
The round cracked when she went for it another time, making it impossible to feel the tiny pieces properly. She wanted to scream out the window and call the bastard shooting at a safe distance a coward, but she figured playing dead was even better. If she survived this, she wouldn’t need to let her would-be assailant know he’d gotten the best of her. She’d let the spineless asshole tell his employer he’d gotten the job done and let him sleep easy until she tracked him down and put a hollow-point between his eyes.
It wouldn’t be the first time.
She didn’t notice it had become quiet, time folding in on itself. No more snarls filled the room. The booming thumps of her heart were almost deafening in her head. Wolfe appeared and pried her hand from her wound. Lowering his head, he inhaled deeply. His jaw clenched, and she felt the rage pouring off him.
“It has to come out,” he told her hoarsely, his voice cracking with the strain.
She nodded. “I can’t get a grip on it.”
He took another deep breath and instructed, “Close your eyes.”
She felt the tips of his claws pierce her skin, but she managed to remain silent. He was trying to help her, not hurt her. Revealing the agony she experienced would only make things harder on him. Thankfully he didn’t extend her suffering by being gentle, choosing to be fast instead. When he had a grip of the cursed object, he removed it. She wanted to scream when the bullet eased from her blistered flesh, sending a torrent of blood down her chest.
“Fuck. It’s already splintered. I can smell the magic.” He sounded terrified, the fingers holding the round trembling. “The poison is already in your system.”
She wanted to tell him not to worry, that she’d survived worse, but the darkness that surrounded her was too strong. Using the last of her willpower, she pressed a kiss to the area above his heart and sagged in his arms. She understood his panic, aware that the clock was ticking.
“Trevor,” she mumbled. “Take me to him. He’ll know what to do.”
He lifted her, saying something she couldn’t make out. She tried to stay awake but it was too late. The toxin had already invaded her system and she’d lost too much blood. Even if Wolfe got her help, the damage could be more than Trevor could fix.
The room swayed with his steps, as though she were drifting in the ocean before the tide rose up to claim her. With a sigh, she closed her eyes. It could have been worse. She could have died before she knew the touch of a real lover, or knew how it felt to have her body worshipped from head to toe. He’d given her what she’d always wanted but never knew she needed, mere minutes that erased a lifetime of regret.
Her thoughts slipped, so she focused on one thing.
At the very least, she’d kept Wolfe from harm.
No matter what happened, he’d live to see another day.
If she died as a consequence, so be it.
Wolfe studied Arden’s sleeping face, relieved to see her free of the pain that ravaged her body just hours before. A selfish part of him wished she’d open her eyes and reassure him. He wanted to hear her voice and know she was truly okay. The last few hours had been the longest of his existence.
“She’s out for the count,” Trevor said as he crept into the bedroom. “Beak of nightingale is some serious shit. She won’t open those pretty peepers of hers for a few days. You might as well get comfortable.”
“You’re certain the poison is gone?”
“Absolutely.” The warlock shot him an annoyed look. “I know what I’m doing. The toxins have left the building.”
Wolfe’s gaze returned to his mate. Trevor thought the bullet came from a vampyren gold vault, meaning the fucking bastards were hiring assassins to take out his mate. His heart constricted with grief and fear
She could have died today.
If I hadn’t been there, she would have.
“You’re right.” Trevor interrupted his thoughts. “If you hadn’t been there, she would have died today.”
Wolfe ripped his attention from his female. “You’re telepathic?”
“Not exactly. I’m an empath. That’s how I met Arden. Her perception and emotions drew me to her.”
“How so?” he asked, frowning.
Trevor walked to the other side of the bed and looked at the woman whose life he’d saved. He studied her for several seconds, worry apparent on his face. “I haven’t shared this knowledge with anyone, lycae. The only reason I’m willing to give it to you is because of the connection the two of you share. Arden isn’t a run of the mill dhampir. She is also cursed with clairsentience through touch. Do you know what that is?”
“I do.” The ability to perceive events and emotions through physical contact was rare but not unheard of. He’d seen witches with the ability decades before, when a lycae mated a mortal Seer.
Trevor seemed pleased. “Good. You’re not as stupid as you look.” The warlock ignored his growl of contempt and asked, “Are you also aware a select few are cursed with the third eye? Do you know what that is as well?”
Annoyance fled as horror took its place.
The third eye led to madness, especially if the person with the ungodly trait kept enough chaos and turmoil locked away in their minds. The horrific atrocities they endured and experienced through touch built up until they could no longer function.