Authors: Aline Hunter
Greyson’s entire demeanor changed, no longer amiable or easy going. “He’s
holding a grudge?”
Wolfe nodded but decided not to delve too deeply into the issue.
After Adam Trevlian—his cousin and the official alpha of the Bacchus pack of Louisiana—killed Lucius Mercoix’s second in command for attacking Kassia, Adam hadn’t bothered hiding what he’d done. His message had been crystal clear.
Come for my mate and meet your maker.
Unfortunately, a certain amount of discretion and ass kissing became necessary in the aftermath, especially with Adam gone in search of his female. Until Adam returned with his mate, the peace had to be kept regardless of the cost. Lycae avoided vampires of all kinds like the plague, so going to war with them wasn’t worth the time. They’d never be friends but they didn’t have to be at each other’s throats either. Adam considered Wolfe’s assistance a personal favor. A man didn’t turn family away when they needed help.
Especially when all I’ve done for the pack here is fuck things up.
“I knew Taylor Martinson before he started drinking blood and avoiding the sun,” Wolfe informed Greyson. “Adam thought a familiar face might help smooth things over. He asked me to talk to him. It’s taken a few days but I finally got through.”
Greyson’s disgust was apparent. “Are you talking about the human contact?”
That gained a chuckle from Wolfe. He didn’t blame Greyson. Becoming a vampire’s suck toy looked pathetic. “I wouldn’t classify him as
. He’s lived too long and seen too much.”
Movement from the front door caught Wolfe’s eye. A dark shape covered in black stopped just inside the entranceway. He flared his nostrils and scented the air. The smells of vampire, lycae and Chimera mingled with the stink of amber from a recent summoning by a witch or wizard. Greyson’s patrons were always a mixed lot.
He separated each scent and found the one he sought.
Fresh milk soap, honeysuckle, linen and…
He drew a deeper breath, unable to distinguish if the smell of leech was coming from the bar or the person who’d drawn his attention. Usually his nose was spot-on, providing him with all the information he needed.
This time, something wasn’t quite right.
“Damn it to hell,” Greyson growled. Wolfe glanced away from the door to see the male glowering at him. “You stay away from that one, Wolfe. She’s not for you or anyone else in this place. Understand? You leave her be.”
Wolfe returned Greyson’s glare. “You sound like an overprotective father.”
“I’m not asking you, I’m telling you.” Greyson snagged his shot of Jack, fingers tightly grasping the glass. “Stay away from her.”
Wolfe returned his focus to the door and frowned.
Damn it. She’s gone.
He surveyed the crowd, following the enticing sweetness of milk and honeysuckle until he found what he was looking for. She was nestled in the opposite corner at a table near the door. It was impossible to see any part of her. A black leather hat hid her face, matching the long leather coat covering her body. Fitted gloves obscured her hands.
His curiosity got the best of him.
What is she trying to hide?
He reached out with his mind, listened for any thoughts she might share. After a few seconds, he stopped. It was as though an impenetrable barrier shielded her mind from his.
“What is she?” he asked.
Greyson’s throaty growl got his attention. “I told you. She’s off-limits.”
Wolfe started to argue when the door opened and Taylor Martinson walked in.
Just great. Perfect fucking timing.
Four vampyren accompanied the human, walking right on his heels. They seemed completely out of place in their business suits, expensive cufflinks and ties.
Greyson slid out of the booth, stopped at the edge of the table and peered down. “I’ll be on my way, but I meant what I said. Steer clear of that female. Things won’t end in the way you’re hoping for.” He sighed, reached into his pocket and removed a set of keys. “I’m not sure where you’re staying while you’re in my area, but the apartment upstairs is yours if you want it.”
Wolfe caught the keys in midair and slid them into his pocket. “I appreciate it.”
Greyson brushed past Taylor as he weaved through the crowd. Wolfe didn’t bother rising to greet his guest. He remained quiet and observant as Taylor took a seat and the vampyren with him crowded around the sliver of space behind the booth. They placed their hands at their sides—apparently ready to go for weapons if necessary—alert and braced to fight.
“Wolfe.” Taylor’s voice was different, almost musical. It was a common occurrence when one ingested vampire blood on a regular basis. It caused them to take on unnatural traits.
“Taylor.” He mirrored the greeting with a nod.
“You look well.” Taylor settled as he spoke, undoing the buttons on his expensive navy jacket. He smoothed his snazzy tie with a swipe of his hand. His straw-blond hair had been neatly combed, his skin clear of stubble and baby-bottom smooth.
How nice. He dressed up for me.
“That’s always good to hear,” Wolfe replied smoothly. “I’d hate to know I looked like shit.”
“So that’s your game?” The thin smile on Taylor’s face evaporated. “Playing the role of the asshole?”
“No game, I’m just not in the mood for bullshit. We’re here for a reason. Let’s hop to it. Tell me what it’s going to take for the pack to smooth things over with your people.”
Taylor sniffed and glanced down at his shirt. “Lucius is willing to accept your olive branch, but he has a stipulation.”
“I wasn’t aware this was a negotiation.”
“If you want to keep the peace like you say you do, a display of goodwill will go a long way to prove it.” Taylor’s once-brown eyes went black. “Your alpha killed a powerful master, someone who cannot be easily replaced.”
“Shit happens.” Feigning disinterest, he shrugged. “But for the sake of conversation, let’s pretend I’m interested in your offer. What exactly do you want me to do?”
Taylor smiled and leaned forward, interlocking his long, pale fingers. “Simple. Someone followed us here. Someone we want taken care of. You do that for us and all is forgiven.”
Wolfe snickered and lowered his head, smiling. It figured. Vampires were never good at ridding themselves of unwanted problems. They were fast and powerful, but relied on brains, not brawn.
“You want me to kill someone?”
“That would be preferable.” Taylor nodded, smile intact. “But a maiming would work just as nicely. We want to send the message that acting against the king isn’t in anyone’s best interest—especially hers.”
Wolfe’s narrowed his eyes, his good humor fleeing. “Her?”
“Surely the prospect of cowing a female doesn’t intimidate you.”
“I don’t attack women, Taylor.” He couldn’t contain the throaty snarl that accompanied his words. “Hell no. Fuck off.”
Any form of friendliness in Taylor vanished, replaced with an uncompromising finality. “That’s the price for peace between the vampyren and the lycae. You want us to get along? You’ll do as I say. Take it or leave it.”
“I won’t kill a female for your king.”
“Then don’t.” Taylor’s retort was laughable at best. “Leave her breathing if you must. We only need her to understand the position she places herself in by killing off our kind. We’ll appreciate a hard lesson learned equally as much as a loss of life or limb.”
A female killing off leeches can’t be that bad.
“She’s killing vampyren?”
“Yes,” Taylor replied, his clipped motions as he swiped at his shirt revealing his fury. “And she’s targeting masters specifically.”
Damn. I like her even more.
“Seems to me”—Wolfe sat back and placed his large arms along the back of the booth—“that a Master should be able to take on one measly little female. If he can’t, he’s not worthy of leading an army or nest.”
“She kills them while they rest,” Taylor spat, fingers clenching into tight fists that landed with a heavy thud on the table. “No vampire—vampyren, Thymeria or otherwise—can defend themselves when the sun is at its zenith.”
His curiosity was officially piqued.
Arching a brow, he asked, “She’s a slayer?”
“No.” Taylor inhaled sharply and shook his head. “She’s something far more deadly.”
“And what might that be?”
Taylor slid from the booth and the vampyren in his accompaniment rushed to take their places behind him. “If you want to know, you can find out right now. Will you accept the terms? Or do I need to tell Lucius you’ve decided the vampyren and lycae must go to war?”
Fuck a duck.
The elation he felt quickly died.
Why did he always have the shittiest fucking luck?
Arden quietly slipped from Greyson’s Pub as soon as the vampyren slave rose from his seat across from the lycae. She took refuge in the shadows across the way, moving to stand alongside a large black limo with tinted windows. She waited for her target to exit the building.
Her body hummed, adrenaline flooding her system. Like a drug, the powerful sensations zinged through her veins and went straight to her head. Anticipation spiked, turning into a dizzying high.
Taylor was the only known individual with access to Lucius Mercoix. The man was the liaison for all vampyren matters, speaking on behalf of the king in all things. Tracking him had been absolute hell. Vampyren were reckless because of bloodlust, but they weren’t stupid.
She closed her eyes and forced calm to replace eagerness.
Now wasn’t the time to bask in the promise of retribution. Years of diligence were about to pay off, but only if she focused. The information from a dying master vampyren had led her to Taylor, but she hadn’t killed the bastard yet. That would only happen if she played her cards right.
This opportunity was good—
too damn good
to fuck up.
Remembering her purpose, she removed her gloves and stuffed them into the pockets of her coat. With a shrug of her shoulders, she removed her warm, leather jacket. The worn material glided down her tight black turtleneck, drifted over her hips, and pooled at her feet. She watched the door as she readied for an opportunity to strike. Taylor was accompanied by four assassins who could tear an immortal in two, and he was meeting with a
of all things.
She shivered when she recalled how massive the hound of hell was, envisioning him sitting relaxed and imposing at the table. His chiseled body, chin-length black hair and darkly shadowed face were impressive as hell. But there had been a very real danger beneath his cool façade, something inexplicable hovering in his dark green eyes.
The danger was called death.
Regardless of the male’s reason for meeting with Taylor, lycae detested vampires. It was a well-known and indisputable fact. However, for some reason, the two were in bed with each other. Had the local pack decided to work with their enemies? Was her job about to become much more difficult?
There’s no way to know. Time to prepare.
Her fingers drifted over daggers attached to harnesses on each of her legs. The Berettas slung beneath each of her arms were securely in place. She went through the weapons with a familiar, lingering caress. Clips were arranged along the back of her belt, ensuring ammunition wouldn’t be a problem.
With a deft motion, she removed the gun beneath her right arm and popped the magazine free to inspect the rounds. Once done, she returned the Beretta to the holster and reached for her back pocket. Her fingers glided over metal and plastic. There they were, ready for action.
Pliers—the poor man’s dental device—her favorite tool of the trade.
She drew a deep breath and released it slowly, savoring the moment and what it meant.
The time was at hand. A vow would soon be settled and a life would be avenged. She’d been patient this long—a little longer wasn’t asking for much. She’d done far worse in her life. Right now, she wasn’t tracking down evil beings and killing them for money. She was doing something with importance.
Wistful, she perched her shoulder against the brisk brick wall. Optimism merged with hope. Once this was done, she was taking a vacation from all things violent. Only Mai Tais, lone beaches and all the relaxation she could stand.
After all—this time around—she’d earned it.
Wolfe squeezed out of the booth, growling as his knees hit the bottom of the table. It was a blessing and a curse being so large. On one hand, it meant a heated glance got the job done in most cases. On the other, it meant low ceilings and too-small furniture were a common occurrence. Once free, he tossed money on the table and followed Taylor and his men from the pub.
Along the way, he glanced at the corner. The girl was gone.
Damn it to hell.
His lack of a sex life hadn’t bothered him before, but it did now. It had been decades since he’d been interested in any female and even longer since he’d had a decent fuck. He hated dredging up memories of Deidre Varmour, but he couldn’t always control his mind or emotions. His hackles rose in disgust. The bitch had used magic to bewitch him, wanting him as a pawn in her personal fucking vendetta.
The experience had almost ruined him.
People had talked and he’d been a laughingstock. Worse? His wolf had been duped by magic, believing it had found its mate. Once the cobwebs had cleared, he’d felt like a total tool. He hadn’t had much use for females after that, swearing them off permanently. Perhaps it was best the mystery woman was gone. He’d likely take his contempt for one female out on another who’d done nothing wrong.
“We’ll take the lead,” one of the vampyren announced, moving in front of Taylor and striding to the entrance. The human exited the building with the remaining leeches directly on his heels. They were all business, scanning the area as they opened the door.
The crisp autumn air swept into the building, the delectable scent of jambalaya and red beans making Wolfe’s stomach rumble. Dinner was next on the agenda. Most definitely. Nothing took care of a werewolf’s hunger like fresh biscuits, refried beans and rice and a side of gumbo. He hadn’t had the opportunity to enjoy a proper meal prior to his journey to the pub.