Authors: Cynthia Eden
Tags: #werewolf, #cynthia eden, #Romance, #paranormal romance, #sexy romance, #werewolf romance, #Romantic Suspense, #short romance story
A trap. She realized that. Ken had just tossed out live bait to pull her in. She could stay in the bedroom, nice and safe, until the wolves arrived or—
Or she could help those dying.
More howls. Coming too close now. Coming fast because the scent of blood would lure in their beasts.
Death was here. The showdown wouldn’t occur with the darkness of Halloween. It had come at dawn, and it bathed them in blood.
Her duty was to protect. To shield.
“Ken, you bastard,” she sucked in a deep breath, “come at me, and you’re dead.”
And Ava went through the window.
Julian saw her jump, saw Ava hit the ground, and even over the thud of racing paws, he heard the snap of her bone break.
But that didn’t slow down his Ava. She staggered to her feet, lifted her weapon, and swept the area.
The scent of blood filled his nose. So fresh. The beast liked that smell, wanted more.
Wanted the throat of the man who’d set this battle into motion.
The wolves had been pulled away. The men on the south side of his property had been attacked. Shot with silver. Left to die. He’d gone to their aid…
Even as Ava now went to the aid of her fallen men. Same lure. Same trick.
The guards he’d left for Ava had all been shot. He passed their bodies. Saw that they lived, but were fighting the silver in their blood. The deputies must have taken them out as they rushed onto the property.
Ava crouched over a moaning human. She put her hands on the deputy’s chest, and he saw the blood thicken beneath her fingertips.
Julian pushed himself to run faster.
Get to her. Get. To. Her.
The young deputy rose from behind a patrol car. He was smiling, and he had a gun pointed right at the back of Ava’s head.
Julia howled a warning.
She spun around, with her gun up.
Gunfire thundered. A fast, hard crack that stopped his world.
Because a circle of red bloomed on Ava’s chest. She staggered back. Ken rushed toward her and grabbed her before she could hit the ground.
Then Ken made the last mistake of his life. He put his gun to Ava’s temple.
The bullet had torn through her chest. Ava couldn’t seem to suck in a full breath, and her whole body trembled.
“Tell your men to stand down!” Ken shouted now as he shoved a gun into her temple. “Or I will blow her brains out.”
Her chest hurt. No, more than hurt. It seemed like it was on fire, and as soon as she could get control of that pain and force some strength into her limbs, she’d kill the bastard.
“If you…” Okay, talking was
hard. “If you…kill me…won’t get…what you…want…”
The wolves had closed in. At least half a dozen of them. They weren’t attacking. The pack stood behind Julian. Julian—the big, black wolf with a body poised to lunge forward.
Ken’s gun jabbed harder against her. “You don’t know a damn thing about what I want,” Ken snapped.
She did. “The…bite…” That’s what it was all about. He’d set up the scene. Made the humans doubt the supernaturals. Eliminated the threats against him. Used the other deputies. Used her. All so he could get—
“I want to make a trade,” Ken said as he pulled her closer to his body. She’d dropped her gun when the bullet hit her. The only weapon she had was her hands, but she’d sure do as much damage as she could against the guy. “You want her so much, Alpha, will you trade yourself for her?”
“No,” Ava managed. Talking was getting even harder, but at least her chest had stopped hurting. Not fire anymore. Ice.
“Because I’m not an idiot,” Ken said, grunting. “I did my research. Talked to that reporter.
the vampires tell me all they knew. Only the alpha can transform a human. Only you can give me what I want.”
Power. Strength. Near immortality.
Same story she’d heard before. Same story, different soon-to-be dead guy.
But…but Julian was shifting before her. Brutal, quick, and—
“Let her go.” Naked, strong, he stood before them. Only he hadn’t shifted completely. His claws were still out. Razor sharp. Ready to slice and kill. “Let her go, or I’ll cut your head off before you can even get the breath to scream.”
Oh, that was good. Reminded her why she’d gone with him that first night. He’d been tall, strong, and she’d taken one look at him and realized—
The kind of man who never fears. A man who fights. Who wins.
A guy strong enough to face the dark with her.
“No!” Ken’s shout. “You’re gonna change me, you’re gonna give me what I want or—”
Ava let her body fall. Not too hard of a feat, since the blood loss had made her weak. She hit the ground and took Ken with her. He screamed and yanked her against him, determined to use her body as a shield from the death he’d probably seen in Julian’s eyes.
But her fingers reached her gun. Her hand closed over the weapon, and she wrenched it up. “Go…to…hell, Billings,” she managed and pulled the trigger.
This time, the bullet drove deep into
chest. The blast threw him back, knocking Ken away from her, and that precious distance was all that Julian needed.
He sprang forward. Ken tried to scream as Julian’s claws flashed out.
The other wolves closed in tight. Ava tried to push away. She needed to see about Pat, about—
Strong arms reached for her and pulled her up against Julian’s chest. He stared down at her, and the sharp emotion in his eyes had her swallowing.
“I told you…” Julian growled, as he bent his head toward her, “I’m not losing you.”
She tried to smile. Couldn’t. Her body was too weak. Weak, but she still had a death-grip on the gun.
Can’t let go.
“Get…get me to a hospital…” Ava promised him, “and you…won’t.”
The odds were probably fifty-fifty on that one.
“Death can’t take you.” He pulled her closer. “I won’t let him.”
But even her werewolf couldn’t stop death.
“Stay with me?” His voice was breaking. Julian never broke. Never.
“Stay?” He asked again.
And she nodded. She wasn’t done with her wolf, not yet. Together,
they’d tell death to screw off.
His lips pressed against her throat. Darkness rose around her even as she felt the light bite on her skin.
Halloween…and Crossroads was a ghost town. Ava drove slowly through the city. No humans around, but, maybe they’d be back.
Four of her deputies were still alive. In the hospital over in Jackson, they were hooked up to a dozen machines. Breathing, and, hopefully, getting stronger.
Ken had played them. Set them up to believe that the wolves were out to get them all. The conniving bastard had slipped his way right under the radar and done his level best to get immortality.
Better luck next time, jerk.
Only there wouldn’t be a next time for Ken. There would just be hell.
She drove the patrol car past the town and deep into werewolf territory. Above her, the blood moon hung heavy in the sky.
Trick or treat.
As a kid, she’d always loved Halloween. A magic night. A night when anything could happen. Monsters could be real. Magic could whisper in the air.
Anything could happen.
Even a human cheating death.
Her headlights cut through the night and fell on him. Julian stood in the middle of the road, his arms folded over his chest.
She’d known that he waited for her. She’d known since that first night.
Ava climbed from the car. No wound slowed her down. How could it? There was no wound, not anymore.
The stories that Ken had heard about the blood moon, well, they were
true. Only an alpha could transfer the power of a wolf with a bite. And it could
happen on Halloween.
But…the transfer didn’t have to occur during the night. As long as the power of the blood moon was in the air, day or night didn’t matter.
The sun rose bloody on Halloween morning. As bloody as the moon would set. The power stayed in the air during those long hours.
The power stayed.
The magic stayed.
Gravel crunched beneath her feet as she stalked to meet her wolf. He didn’t speak.
That was okay. She had plenty to say.
“You changed me.” That was her opening.
His jaw hardened. “If I hadn’t, you never would have made it to the hospital.”
Yes, she knew that. Those odds she’d calculated while she’d been in a pool of her own blood? Way too optimistic. More like one hundred percent chance of death.
“I…couldn’t…let you go.” The words seemed torn from him.
But they were also the words she’d known he’d speak. The big, bad alpha had a serious weakness.
“Lucky for you,” Ava said as she closed the last bit of distance between them, “I’m not planning to go anywhere.” Someone had to stay in Crossroads and set things right. Someone had to be strong enough to face whatever nightmare came next.
His hands closed around her. Tight. So tight. “You…agreed. You wanted the change.”
“Yes.” In the end, she had. “Because I wasn’t ready to let you go, either.” Finally, she’d take what she wanted.
She rose onto her toes. The power of the wolf lived inside of her now. She could feel the wildness of the beast, telling her to
Take her pleasure. Take her man.
Take the happiness that could be hers.
Take all that waited for her this Halloween night.
She kissed him and knew that she’d take everything he had to give.
Ava had never been afraid of the big, bad wolf. She’d been too busy falling for him.
She did love a man with bite.
His hands dropped from her. “What game are you playing?”
“N-no game. You’ve got me confused with someone else.” Jane’s words tumbled out too quickly. Desperation would do that to a girl. Make her talk fast. Make her shake and quake.