Authors: Catherine Banks
Artemis Lupine #4
BY: CATHERINE BANKS
Published by Catherine Banks
Copyright © 2014 Catherine Banks
Cover by: Avery Banks
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To all of my amazing friends, family, and fans who have stayed with me since the beginning.
Thank you to my fantastic husband Avery. Thank you to everyone who has read the entire series. I hope you have enjoyed Artemis’s story and I hope you give my other books a chance as well.
Over one thousand years old and I felt as helpless as a newborn human. There were few people whom I truly cared for and Ares was one of the few people I loved. I stared at his lifeless body and hissed at my uselessness. Here I was, the most powerful vampire in the world, and I could do nothing, but wring my hands and pace.
from Ares’ body only to have my eyes come to rest on Artemis’ body, which lay next to Ares’ on top of the sarcophagus that should have been for Dmitri had my father not made him an immortal vampire. Artemis was small, beautiful and enormously powerful. When I had first seen Ares and Artemis together I was not sure what to make of the awkward, shy girl, but she soon proved that she was just as loyal and good hearted as the prophesized savior of the world should be. She was certainly capable of killing, but she had a good soul and most importantly she made Ares happy.
Ares and I had been through many battles and he had s
aved my life numerous times. He had also put my life in danger numerous times, but no matter what we encountered, he never backed down and he constantly proved his loyalty to me. I wanted to prove my loyalty to him, to repay him, but I could do nothing!
“Any change?” asked a deep
, growling voice from far away.
I walked out of the room and down the dark catacombs until I reached the
stairs which led up into the cathedral where we were currently taking our refuge. A dark blue dragon’s head snaked through the doorway of the cathedral and wound his way as close to the catacomb stairway as he could.
Draco Blu, leader of the dragons,
had come an hour after Artemis’ death demanding to know what had happened and seeking blood. It was a good thing that Apollo, Artemis’ twin brother and cause of her death, was locked deep within the catacombs or the dragon might have torn him apart and I do not think I would have been able to stop him. Draco Blu and Artemis had developed a friendship which had shocked the entire world since the dragons had previously only kept to themselves. Knowing Artemis though, I knew that many would change their views after meeting her.
I met the dragon’s eyes and shook my head. He growled
in frustration and asked, “How much longer can Hades hold him?”
Hades yelled, “Not much longer. I’m not strong enough
to hold him more than another hour at most.” Hades was a full blooded sidhe who had the unique power of being able to send people into Death’s realm and bring them back, usually. He was currently the only thing keeping Ares alive and the only link that would bring Ares back to the living realm. Of course that also depended on Death as well. If Death decided that he wanted to keep Ares’ soul with him, then there was nothing any of us could do.
pulled his head out of the cathedral and then returned only a few seconds later with one of his scales between his teeth. I stared at it in shock a moment before taking it from him and returning to the room where Hades was bent over Ares. I set the scale in Hades’ hand and he gasped as the power flowed out of the scale and into him.
Hades stared at it in shock
and then spoke to Draco Blu as I walked back to the stairway, “Why would you do this? Giving me some of your energy is an incredible gift, but you do not know me.”
e simply said, “She is my friend.”
I stared after the leader of the dragons in shock. In one thousand years the dragons had not been friends with anyone. Now, the leader was giving his energy, his essence, to strangers to try to save a girl he viewed as his friend. Times were definitely changing. The dragon withdrew from the building and I
returned to the room, leaned against the wall and watched Ares again.
Koda walked into the room
still in his wolf form. Most werewolves were clean in their wolf forms because they switched forms a lot, but his fur was matted and looked oily and dingy. His eyes were glued to Artemis’ body as he walked, as if she were the only thing in the room. The usually joyful and teasing man who always had a Mohawk and crazy hair color had transformed with Artemis’ death. As soon as Artemis had died Koda shifted forms and refused to change back. I was slightly worried that he might go rogue, but more importantly, this was not like him.
He walked passed me without even an acknowledgment and sat on the floor beside Artemis. He put his nose against her hand, inhaling her scent, and shuddered. He rubbed his face against her palm and then walked to Ares, repeating the movements. There were other wolves around, so he was
not a lone wolf, but he had lost his brother Matt when Ares had had to execute him for being a traitor. Then Artemis had died because she had been bound to Achilles, former Prince of the Sidhe, who was killed by Apollo and now Ares was in Death’s realm. It was too much for Koda to handle as a man so he chose to stay a wolf. He jumped up onto the stone, curled up at Artemis’ feet, closed his eyes with a sigh and fell asleep. Sleep was probably the best thing for him to do to help keep him sane. I had seen a few wolves who had stayed in wolf form too long and could not switch back. I prayed that Koda would not be one of them. It would pain me to have to kill him if it came down to it.
I walked out of the room to
find food before I lost control. Sidhe and wolves moved out of my way as I walked down the underground passageways. I realized after a moment that there was no food here and I needed to teleport somewhere to find some. I closed my eyes and began to gather my magic to teleport to my favorite girl when a hand came to rest on my arm. “Victor,” Dmitri whispered, “Take me with you please.”
I opened my eyes and saw
his pinched eyes and slightly elongated fangs and realized that I was failing as his leader. “I apologize. I should have realized that you would need food as well.”
I closed my eyes again and teleported
us both to Las Vegas, not wanting to tell even Dmitri about my favored female. Vegas was one of the only areas that my father had not changed. For some reason he liked the bright lights and busyness. It was now home to hundreds of shapeshifters and vampires. Dmitri smiled as we started walking and asked, “Are we going to get in a fight while we are here?”
I shrugged. “It depends on my father’s minions. Most should know to steer clear of me and let me do as I want, but perhaps some will try to gain
his favoritism by attempting to capture me.”
“Attempt would be the main word in that sentence,” Dmitri said with a smile.
We walked down the sidewalks, passing by potion shops, clothing stores, strip clubs and restaurants. The patrons of the town made a point to veer out of my path, which made me smile. Or perhaps it was Dmitri they were avoiding. He was known as Fear and had been my father’s right hand assassin until I had freed him from my father’s grasp. With him beside me I doubted we would have any trouble in this town, but one could always hope.
I stopped in front of a
blue, ten story building with no markings on the front except for the address. “Here we are,” I said with a smile as I pushed open the door.
A tall, slender woman with exotic eyes sat behind a counter with a bored expression on her face. As soon as I entered she stood up and smiled pleasantly at me. “Prince Victor. It has been too long since I have seen your handsome face.”
“Alexandria, I have missed our meetings,” I said with a bit of purr and sexual innuendo added in my voice.
Her body tightened in response to my power and she stepped around the counter to place her hands on my chest.
She was slender and had thick blonde hair down to her butt. “What can I get for you?” she asked with heat in her eyes.
I smiled and saw Dmitri roll his eyes. “I need two donors for each of us. We are very thirsty.”
She nodded her head and walked to an intercom, speaking in Russian and bending over just enough to make her skirt inch up her long legs. She motioned for us to follow her with a flick of her finger and tongue. Dmitri shook his head at me and I followed him without reading his thoughts, knowing well enough what he would be thinking. Alexandria stopped at the first door and pushed it open. “Dmitri, you will feed here.”
Dmitri stepped into the room and two beautiful Asian women stepped out from behind a curtain. “Hello Dmitri,” the identical twins said.
“Come, Victor,” Alexandria prompted.
I waved to Dmitri and followed Alexandria to the room directly next to his. Alexandria pushed open the door and waved me in. “I hope you enjoy your meal.”
“I appreciate your hospitality,” I said and then picked her hand up and kissed the back of it.
She flushed and quickly turned away retreating out the door she came through. I opened the gate which I kept closed over my mind and focused on the two women sitting on the couch in front of me. I was strong, but even the strongest can fall prey to a trap and be killed.
Women were often used as traps for men because we so often forget that women can be just as deadly as a man. If men would only think about the lion and the fierceness of the lioness, the hunter of the pride, they might not forget to keep a knife nearby after lowering their defenses for a woman. I never forgot. The female vampire was just as capable as killing me as a male vampire. That was part of the enticement for me when mating with vampire women. They could turn from giving you sweet kisses to tearing open your throat with their fangs in a millisecond.
He’s scary. I hope he isn’t a messy eater.
Oh he looks powerful. Look at those black eyes. I hope he chooses to feed from me first.
The humans who became cattle for vampires to feed on were
not usually the brightest, but I was surprised at the fierce look in the second’s eyes and her desire to be fed from first. I sat down on the couch between them and turned to the second girl. “I think I will start with you.” I let my fangs extend fully and she turned her neck to the side, presenting me with a perfect angle to puncture her neck. It was nice to have such pretty food sometimes.
Miss Alpha female.
Want pack back.
Lonely. So lonely without.
Need to eat. Need to rip into something’s stomach. Mm, fresh liver. Blood smells good in forest.
Blood. Want blood.
No. Alpha and Alpha female not happy if I kill.
Want her back. Want her warmth back.
Pain. Hurts. Need her back.
This battle had not gone anything like I had thought it would. My youngest son, one of the strongest of the Sidhe lay on top of someone else’s grave, cold to the touch. My other son lay on another grave, in Death’s realm trying to retrieve his mate’s soul. Poor Artemis who had been through more than one being should be forced to go through was dead just like Achilles, her death caused by their bond which he had created to save her from Hera, my wife.
I looked at Hera who was still sitting beside Achilles
holding his hand as if she expected him to awaken and sit up from a dream. How I wished this was all a dream! In one day I could lose both of my sons and my daughter-in-law. It was too much for a parent to bear.
I should have been strong enough to take out Maurice
myself, but the sad fact was that I had lost most of my magic when I had battled Goliath, the former Werewolf King and Beatrice’s father, and he had torn one of my wings from my back. My wing had regenerated, but my magic was a quarter of what it had been. Thankfully none except Hera knew that and my previous shows of power were enough to keep the Sidhe safe for the most part.
It was strange that Maurice had become so strong without us noticing. Had we truly been that blind? How could we have missed him amassing vampires to him, making h
im stronger vampire by vampire?
I knew how. We had hidden in our realm trying to isolate ourselves like fools.
Despite being less powerful if I had made amends with Ares and worked together with Hera it might have been possible to stop this before it began. That was neither here nor there though. I could not change the past. If I could I would have changed much about Ares’ and my past. My poor son had been through so much and I thought he had finally found a chance to be happy with Artemis. How could one being be forced to endure so much turmoil? Artemis seemed to be brought into this mess by destiny, but it was one of the few times that I wanted to complain about life not being fair. Sweet Artemis deserved a much better lot in life than the one she had been given.
How could I end this war without burying another one of my children?