Authors: Nina Croft
Sisters of the Moon Series
Bound to Night
Bound to Night
Copyright © 2012 by Nina Croft
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author or publisher except for the use of brief quotations in critical articles or reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, businesses, characters and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, actual events or locales is purely coincidental.
Table of Contents
8 years ago
A prickle ran down her spine.
“Dad, are you there?” Tasha called out, but the words were thrown back at her, echoing off the stone walls.
She was early that was all. He’d be here. He’d promised.
The sun slipped lower in the sky, finally vanishing behind the huge warehouses. Shadows hugged the edges of the buildings, drawing ever closer to where she stood in the encroaching night.
She swallowed, her throat suddenly dry. Something was out there, watching her from just beyond the edge of darkness. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a movement in the dim light. Tendrils of emotion teased at her mind, like nothing she’d felt before. Not a person; there were no conscious thoughts, only raw feelings. Anticipation, hunger, hate.
For a minute, Tasha stood immobile, every muscle locked solid. Then she turned her head slowly and peered into the gloom. She blinked, trying to make sense of what she was seeing. A dog? But it was bigger than any dog she’d ever come across, bigger even than the wolves she’d seen at the zoo.
It took a step closer, clearing the shadows, and an icy wave of dread rolled over her, threatening to suck her under. Her mind screamed to run, but her body wouldn’t obey, every muscle clenched tight as her gaze locked with cold yellow eyes.
Another step and the spell was broken. She hurled her backpack at the thing’s head, then spun around and ran. She’d only taken a few strides when a heavy weight slammed into her, crashing her to the ground. Stars flashed behind her closed eyes, and the coppery taste of blood filled her mouth.
Tasha rolled onto her back and the beast was on her, pressing her down, hot stinking breath smothering her. She tried to scramble away, but it lunged, taking her shoulder in its huge jaws. Bone crunched loud in her ears. Searing pain flooded her body and mind, and she knew she was going to die.
Maybe not yet.
She must have blacked out. When she came to, the beast was gone, and she wasn’t dead after all. Her own shuddering breaths were the only sound in the darkness. She tried to roll over, but red hot spikes of pain pinned her to the ground. Her phone was in her backpack. She could see it lying about ten feet away. It might as well have been a mile.
Her dad would be here soon, all she had to do was hold on.
The beam of an approaching vehicle flooded the area with light. Tears of relief blurred her vision; she’d known he would save her. Always before, she’d balked at using her inner sense, scared it would mean she was accepting the impossible, descending into madness. Now, for the first time she reached out, needing to feel her father’s comforting presence. But the minds she encountered were strangers.
She twisted her neck so she could watch. Some sort of dark van pulled up a few feet away, but she didn’t recognize the vehicle. Two men stepped out and came toward her.
“She the one?” the closest asked.
“Oh yeah. Let’s get her in the van—that thing’s still out there.”
“Wait. My father—” Tasha clamped her lips on a scream as the first man leaned down and dragged her to her feet. He tossed her over his shoulder, oblivious to the moan of agony wrenched from her throat. The few paces to the van seemed to last a lifetime, before she was dropped in the back. She landed with a jolt and lay staring at the roof, trying to get a grip on a world reduced to nothing but hurting.
The rear door slammed and she was alone. Panic tore at her insides as the vehicle started to move, and quickly picked up speed.
The journey passed in a haze of pain and confusion intermingled with brief respites of unconsciousness. Finally, the door opened and a dark figure stared down at her.
“Welcome to The Facility.”
Jack raced through the dark forest, weaving between the trees, listening for the sound of his pursuers. When he realized he was leaving them far behind, he slowed his pace. He hadn’t spent all this time planning the operation just to elude them so easily.
He halted behind the broad trunk of an oak tree, pulled out his cell phone, and punched in speed dial.
“I’m going in,” he said.
“Have fun,” Sebastian replied.
“Yeah, right, like that’s going to happen.” He ended the call, tossed the phone into the undergrowth and peered around. The place was in darkness, no sign of any lights. Presumably they were using night vision, because he could still hear them heading toward him, smashing through the undergrowth like a herd of blundering elephants.
Finally, when he was about to give up hope and go looking, one of them appeared. Tall, he was dressed all in black, with camouflage makeup darkening his face, and a rifle in his hand. A second man appeared at his side, and then a third—all armed. Jack was guessing the weapons would be loaded with tranquilizers. They wouldn’t go to all this bother to get hold of him, and then risk killing him off.
Not that bullets could kill him, but they would hurt like hell.
Time to get this over with.
He stepped out from behind the tree and turned to face them. Then stopped abruptly and plastered a surprised expression on his face.
“Don’t move.” The first man raised his weapon and pointed it straight at Jack.
He hadn’t been planning on moving, though he did snarl, baring the tip of one fang, just so they could be sure they had the right person.
The weapon made no sound as it fired. Jack released his breath and glanced down. A small dart stuck out of his upper arm. He waited to see whether the drug would have any effect.
Closing his eyes, he swayed and toppled to the ground.
He kept his eyes shut and his body limp as they wrapped him in chains. Silver chains. What did they think he was? A bloody werewolf?
They carried him through the forest, slung over someone’s shoulder and finally dropped him in the back of a vehicle and slammed the doors shut, leaving him alone.
The journey took over an hour. At long last, they stopped moving and the door opened.
“Welcome to The Facility.”
After two long and tedious weeks, Jack was far from impressed by the hospitality at The Facility. He hoped that was about to improve.
He opened his eyes and stretched on the narrow cot.
Someone was approaching.
With any luck, they were bringing him some food. He’d told them he needed sustenance, that he was starving, might even die without it. Though in truth, he was far more likely to die from boredom in this place, than he was from hunger. At over five hundred years old, he could go months without feeding, but they didn’t know that. In fact, here at The Facility, they knew fuck all. At least about his kind. And if he had any say in the matter—and he planned to have a great deal—things would stay that way.
But he also needed information. After all, that was the point in his being here. He’d thought to coerce it out of the guards, but his first attempt had ended up with the man having some sort of aneurism and ending up bleeding from the ears. Then dead. Very inconvenient.
The guard must have had some sort of implant in the brain, which had reacted to the compulsion. But Jack had never come across anything like it, and he didn’t want to risk it again, at least not yet. Once they might put down to an accidental occurrence. Twice and nobody would believe it a coincidence.
That was a week ago. Afterward, he’d decided the best way to get his information was for them to believe he was cooperating. So he’d made them an offer. His “collaboration ” in exchange for food, though he was actually telling them a load of bullshit. He’d even managed to convince them he was allergic to garlic, and many a bored hour was spent coming up with even more ludicrous misinformation.
The footsteps came to a halt outside his cell and he heard the numbers being punched into the keypad locking mechanism. There was also a retinal scan—the security was top of the range and far more advanced than anything out in the general market.
The door slid open. Jack sat up but didn’t get to his feet. He was expecting one of the guards, but instead a small, almost hunched figure, hovered in the open doorway. Someone shoved her hard, and she lurched forward and then turned and snarled at whoever was behind her.
Johnson, one of the less pleasant guards followed her into the cell, and then a second man stepped in behind her. This was someone new, and definitely not a guard. Probably in his forties, with short sandy hair, he studied Jack as though he were some sort of lab rat. Which he supposed he was in a way, though that didn’t mean he had to like it.
“I’m Dr. Latham,” he said. “I’m in charge of your…case.”
Jack didn’t answer, just curled his lip revealing the tip of one sharp fang. The guard took a step back. Latham remained where he was, his expression more curious than fearful. He was a fool.
A small gasp came from the girl. He’d almost forgotten she was there; she was so small and quiet. Now he turned to study her.
She was presumably his dinner. Or not. He had few rules, but not feeding from children was one of them. Then she turned back to face him. Her intense golden gaze locked with his, and he realized she was no child.
He could see why he’d been mistaken. She was short, maybe just a whisper over five feet, and slender—too slender. Her dark red hair fell in ripples to her waist, and her small, pointed face was pale as though she rarely saw the sun. She was dressed in grey sweat pants and a white vest top. Her small breasts pressed against the cotton, and he felt an unexpected stab of lust.
She’d controlled her initial fear and now was returning his inspection with obvious curiosity.
“So, can you read him?” Latham asked.
“I’m trying,” she snapped. “Keep your pants on.”
She took a wary step closer. Jack breathed in and caught a wild feral scent, like the forest at full moon.
And what did they mean, “read” him?
Then he felt it, faint tendrils of power, probing at his mind, seeking a way in. He slammed down his defensive walls and saw her eyes widen.
“Ow,” she said.
“Well?” Latham prompted.
“No, I can’t.”
“You mean he’s shielded? Like us?”
She studied Jack for a moment, her head cocked to one side. He felt the tentative probing again, but his mind was safely locked away behind his walls. At least he knew now why the guards were shielded. She was a telepath, and the most powerful one he had ever come across. And a wolf? How had she ended up at The Facility? The pack usually looked after their own.
“No,” she replied. “Not like you. Different. You feel unnatural, an aberration.” There was a distinct sneer in her voice and he got the impression she wanted them to hear it. She was baiting them—probably unwise if she was a prisoner. “He feels natural. Right. But there’s a big wall I can’t get through.”
“Why am I not surprised?” Latham said. “Yet again you manage to disappoint.” He glanced from her to Jack and back to her. “Well, perhaps we can find one thing you’re useful for.” He turned to leave the room, followed by the guard, but paused at the doorway and spoke directly to Jack. “She’s yours. Just don’t finish her off. She may yet prove of some use.”
“Bastard,” she muttered as the door closed behind them. Then she turned slowly to stare at him. Her lower lip caught between her teeth, he suspected to keep it from quivering. Otherwise, there were no outward signs of fear, and he was impressed. Because she was afraid, he could scent her fear in the air.
“How old are you?” he asked. Just in case.
Her brows drew together, but she shrugged and answered. “Twenty-one.”
He didn’t need to feed, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t enjoy it. She looked and smelled…intriguing. Vampires loved werewolf blood; it was the sweetest. His gums ached at the thought, and his cock twitched in his pants. Maybe the night was improving.