Authors: Cynthia Eden
Tags: #werewolf, #cynthia eden, #Romance, #paranormal romance, #sexy romance, #werewolf romance, #Romantic Suspense, #short romance story
“Not talking about silver.” His head lifted. “Some things burn even deeper than that.”
Her neck still seemed to burn. “What did you do?” she asked again.
His lips parted to answer, but in the next instant, Julian’s head jerked up. He glanced toward the bar, and she saw his nostrils flare.
Then he threw her back. Ava slammed into the pavement, stunned, breath lost as Julian’s body crashed down on top of hers. He covered her, holding her down as she fought against him.
No match in hand-to-claw combat.
An explosion shook the night. A ball of flames lit up the sky and the heat of the blaze seemed to lance her skin. Debris from the blazing bar shot into the air and then struck the ground around them.
The heat stole her breath for an instant. Heat, fury.
Julian slowly lifted his body from hers. “Are you hurt?”
The fire blazed behind him. Glass covered the ground. The windows had broken, busted, from the force of the fire.
She shoved away from Julian and ran for the building.
He’d been the only one inside.
Julian grabbed her and yanked her back against him. “He’s dead.”
No, no, she had to go in and find him. It was her job to protect the people in that town.
,baby. There’s nothing you can do for him now.”
She knew…looking at that blaze…
. The building was a hollow shell. The flames eating everything in sight.
In the distance, sirens blared. Like the deputies, the firefighters had stayed in town. They hadn’t been run off. Yet.
Someone had to stay around to pick up the pieces.
Only it looked like there weren’t gonna be any pieces of Billy left to pick up.
“I heard it when he died,” Julian told her, and her head bowed.
I’m sorry, Billy.
“He’s gone, and if you go into those flames, you’ll just burn, too.”
Ava blinked away the tears in her eyes, tears that weren’t just caused by the flames. She grabbed Julian’s arm as the rage flared hotter inside her.
Too many dead bodies.
“Tell me you got the bastard’s scent.” He must have caught a whiff of the attacker’s scent.
He stared at her a moment, then nodded. Very, very slowly.
Ava pulled her gun from the holster on her hip. “Then let’s chase that asshole down.”
A fast smile, one that showed off Julian’s strong, white teeth, was his response. Then they were running through the streets. Twisting, turning, as Julian tracked the killer. As they hunted, he shifted, and soon a wolf was at her side.
Ava’s breath heaved in her chest, but she ran with him as her legs pumped. Faster, faster.
The killer wasn’t getting away from her. This hell would end before Halloween.
Julian followed the mixed scent. Gasoline. Sweat. Fear. He tracked that stench all the way through Crossroads and back to the sheriff’s station.
“What?” Ava’s voice, out of breath as she paused beside him. “Why are we stopping here?”
The wolf growled even as the man within seethed with rage. Ava didn’t understand. She was caught in a deadly game that wouldn’t end well for her. Couldn’t. Too many wanted power. Too many wanted blood.
She couldn’t even trust her own men.
Ava began to stride forward, toward the warm lights that glowed in the station. Julian turned and shoved his body against her.
She tried to walk around him. A snarl broke from him, and Ava stilled.
He saw the understanding on her face even as she shook her head and said, “No. You’re wrong, they’re not—”
The shift swept back over him. Brutal. Fast. The wolf left him with a wrenching burst of pain, and the man rose to stand before her. His hands curled around her arms, and he pulled her close. Since he was naked after the shift, her being close felt good. Better than good.
“They knew you were at the bar, didn’t they?”
She licked her lips. “Ken, he knew. He was with me just before—” She broke off and shook her head. “This is crazy. Those are my men, okay?”
“And they weren’t as careful as they should have been. Not this time.” He pushed her back into the shadows. “The jerks who ran us off the road were smart enough to use a scent blocker, but tonight, hell, I guess they figured I was far enough away that I wouldn’t even realize what was happening in town.”
But he hadn’t been able to stay away. Not when he knew that Ava was in danger. So he’d watched her. Stalked unnoticed through the shadows to make sure that she was safe.
And she’d nearly died.
If she’d been closer to that building… If he hadn’t covered her with his body…
The fire had torn the flesh from his back. He hadn’t let Ava see the damage. No point. He’d sucked up the pain, and gotten her clear of those flames. The shift had healed him, for the most part.
If the fire had gotten to her, Ava wouldn’t have been so lucky.
That made two damn times that someone had tried to kill her. Those assholes wouldn’t get a third shot at her.
“They set you up to die. They thought you were defenseless. Alone. And they just waited for you to burn.”
Her eyes were so big. So lost. “Those are my men. My team.”
She had traitors on her team.
“Cops and deputies have access to the blocking chemical, don’t they?” He knew they did. A special spray could cover them, for a little while.
And a little while would be all the time they needed.
“Deputies could also cross right into vampire territory without raising suspicion.” Cross in and burn those undead bastards with a fire just like the one that had taken out the bar tonight. A fire—a bomb.
Ava glanced back at her station.
“You haven’t reported in.” This was the delicate part. He narrowed his eyes and willed her to just
“As far as those guys in there know, you didn’t make it out of that fire. You’re dead.”
Her breath rasped out. “And you want me to stay that way?”
Her death was the last thing he wanted. “I want you to stay with me. I want you to stay alive, until we can take these guys down.”
With the power of the blood moon coming, his pack could take out anyone dumb enough to get in their way.
But her gaze was returning to the station. “You’re
the scent goes back…?”
Just then, the station door burst open. Two deputies ran out. He recognized them both instantly—the young guy, Ken Billings was shadowed by Tom McGee, a guy who’d been patrolling since before Ava ever signed on board.
They both froze when they caught sight of Ava and Julian. But after that shocked second, McGee reached for his gun.
As McGee’s finger tightened around the trigger, Julian shoved Ava to the side, making sure that bullet didn’t hit her. But more footsteps pounded out of that station. More bullets began to rain down on them, and he knew he had to get her out of there.
Julian grabbed Ava, kept right on dodging those bullets, and fled back through the night. The deputies would follow—
He’d get Ava to a safety, and then he’d rip those traitors apart.
Ava paced the confines of the bedroom—Julian’s bedroom—and wondered how she could have been so blind. She’d worked with those men. Day in and day out. And never once realized that they were gunning for her.
The door squeaked behind her. Ava turned around to find Julian standing in the doorway. He’d brought her to wolf land, taken her into his house and into his pack. Protection, for now. The deputies would come, they’d keep hunting, but she and Julian would be ready for them.
Come and get us, assholes.
Julian had put on jeans, a pair of old, faded jeans that clung loosely to his hips. His stride was slow, stalking, as he headed for her.
“Wolves are stationed at all the entrances to the property. If those humans so much as
about coming on my land tonight, they’ll find a war waiting.”
She didn’t doubt it.
He kept closing in on her. “You’ll be safe here.”
Ah, now Ava knew he was lying. She’d never been safe with Julian. That was the problem. “Tell me about the mark.”
That didn’t stop him. A few more seconds, and he stood before her. His hand lifted, and his fingertips trailed over her neck. Right over the skin that still seemed to burn from a bite mark she’d never been able to see. “What mark?” His voice had deepened, and Ava recognized lust when she heard it.
The lust had always been there between them. Flaring between them, demanding release. She’d given in once, then realized too late just how high the price was for the pleasure that Julian could give to her.
The price was her heart. Her life.
He bent and his lips feathered over her throat. Her pulse raced faster beneath his mouth. Faster still, when his tongue slid over her skin.
Her eyes wanted to close, and she had to hold back the moan that rose in her throat. Ava’s hands lifted and curled around Julian’s broad shoulders. Not to push him away, but she should have.
She should have.
“You’re like me.” That same dark voice whispered from him as his hand slid down the front of her shirt. Eased right down between her breasts. “You’ve got the same wildness inside, begging to be set free.”
That wildness had driven her away from home when she was eighteen. It had driven her to work for the government. To grow addicted to the adrenaline rush that came from the jobs they gave her. Hunting. Fighting.
You’re like me.
His truth scared her.
Julian’s fingers, warm, rough, slid under her shirt, and caressed her flesh. “Why did you run from me?” Those hands kept caressing, sliding down ever lower.
“You knew I couldn’t…” In a flash, he’d undone the snap of her pants.
Shifters move so fast.
She swallowed and said, “You knew we couldn’t keep seeing each other. Not with me being the one who—”
“Kept the paranormals on their leashes?” Now his voice roughened. “You realized what I was from the first moment, and that didn’t stop you from screwing me.”
No, it hadn’t. Her fingers curled around his wrist and stilled his hand. She’d known he was angry with her. Most guys probably would have been happy with a night of no-strings sex.
Julian was far from most guys.
“That night…” She drew in a breath. Confession time. “I thought I was just in Crossroads to train the local officers. A few weeks, then I’d walk away.” So she’d let down her guard—
and she’d taken what she wanted.
His eyes, so bright and swirling with emotion, held hers.
“I got the call at 5 a.m. that morning. My boss had new orders. They wanted me to start running things because they were worried the paranormals weren’t being treated fairly down here.” Looked like they’d been spot-on with their worries. The deputies had just been biding their time, waiting for the perfect moment to attack.