Dark Hunger


Page 13


The very thing he didn’t need.


He intended to make Caine and Briggs pay for every moment of this misery.


In blood.


Levet broke off his inventive curses, glancing over his shoulder. “The curs have entered the tunnel.”


Salvatore’s pace never faltered. “They won’t be the only ones.”


“What do you mean?” Harley demanded.


“If Caine has any sense at all, he’ll have sent a few curs overhead to try and cut us off at the exit.”


“So you have effectively trapped us down here?” she accused, her angry tone unable to hide the fear he could sense in the air.


“Of course not,” he smoothly lied, coming to a halt. The mark of any great leader was convincing others you knew what you were doing, even if you didn’t have a clue. Besides, he didn’t want to listen to any more bitching. “Levet, can you cut off our pursuers?”


The gargoyle sniffed. “My talents are boundless.”


“Can you do it without bringing the entire tunnel down on our heads?”


He lifted his tiny hands toward the ceiling. “We shall see.”


Not entirely reassured, Salvatore grabbed Harley’s arm and pulled her farther down the tunnel.


“You might want to give him some room,” he muttered. Then, as a pulsing shaft of light speared through the darkness, he abruptly turned his head. “And hide your eyes.”


“Not again,” she muttered, the words barely leaving her lips when the explosion sent them both tumbling backwards.


Rolling on top of Harley, Salvatore protected her from the flying debris, relieved that they were the usual rocks and clumps of dirt to be found in a tunnel. He wasn’t in the mood for any surprises.


“Ta-da,” Levet chirped, his wings flapping with pride as Salvatore rose to his feet and pulled Harley upright. They all silently studied the seemingly solid wall of dirt that now blocked the tunnel behind them. Then, just when Salvatore hoped that something had actually gone right, Levet glanced toward the low ceiling. “Oops.”


“Oops?” Salvatore growled.


“Maybe we should hurry.”


Salvatore heaved a resigned sigh. “Damn.”


As one, they turned to sprint forward, no longer concerned about what might lie ahead, just as dirt began showering down on their heads.


The dash to stay ahead of the cave-in lasted nearly two miles, but at last the ceiling once again became stable, and better still, the tunnel widened and branched into two separate passageways.


Salvatore came to a halt, waiting for Levet to skid to a stop at his side. Despite his perfect vision in the dark, this cramped and dank place was more suited to a gargoyle than a Were.


“What do you sense?” he demanded.


Levet sniffed the air and pointed his hand to the right. “This tunnel has an opening thirty or forty feet past the curve.” There was more sniffing. He pointed to the left. “That one…”


“What?” Salvatore prompted.


“It continues on, but I cannot tell more than that. It has not been used for several years.”


Salvatore hesitated only a moment before coming to his decision.


“Can you get past any curs who will be waiting?”


“If you are attempting to insult me…”


“Can you do it?”


Before Levet could answer, Harley grabbed his arm and jerked him around to meet her scowl.


“Just hold on. What are you planning?”


“We have to split up.”


“Split up? Are you kidding?”


“If Levet can get past the guards, he can contact Styx and let him know we’re in trouble.”


She blinked in surprise and Salvatore smiled wryly. Hell, she couldn’t be any more shocked than he was. Before this moment, he would have laughed at the suggestion he would deliberately seek out the leeches for help. So far as he was concerned, the only good vamp was one who stayed in his grave, where he belonged.


Unfortunately, the suspicion that Briggs was still alive changed everything. Lunatic curs he could handle. A Were siphoning black magic meant that he had to swallow his considerable pride.


The vampires were the only ones he could trust to keep Harley safe.


“The vampire?” she muttered.


Salvatore grimaced. “As much as it pains me to admit it, we’re going to need his help.”


“You’re going to use the vampires to kill Briggs?”


“For now, all I want is to get away from Caine and his goons,” he hedged.


She tried to hide her shiver. “Then shouldn’t we be trying to get out of these tunnels?”


“I don’t doubt we could fight our way past the curs, but they’ll be right on our tails. I prefer to slip away unnoticed.”


Her scowled remained. “What of Levet?”


“The curs have no interest in a gargoyle, and once he comes out the curs will be expecting us to be behind him. Hopefully, it will take some time for them to figure out we aren’t with him.”


She gnawed her bottom lip, trying to find the flaws in his logic.


“Have you considered the possibility that the tunnel might be a dead end?” she at last demanded. “We’ll be trapped.”


Salvatore slowly smiled. “Trust me.”


She snorted. “Not in a million years.”


“We’ll see.” He grabbed Harley’s chilled hand and glanced toward the silent demon at his side. “Go, Levet.”


Tossing his hands in the air, the tiny demon stomped his way down the dark tunnel.


“Go, Levet. Come, Levet. Sit, Levet,” he muttered, making sure his voice carried back to Salvatore. “You do know I am not the dog around here?”


With a roll of his eyes, Salvatore tugged Harley in the opposite direction.


“Cristo. I hope one of the damned curs eats him.”


“You aren’t very grateful,” she predictably protested. The damned gargoyle possessed an unfathomable appeal to the fairer sex. Color him baffled. “He did rescue us.”


“I will give you anything you desire if you keep that our little secret.”


She laughed. “Is the big bad wolf embarrassed to be saved by the itty bitty gargoyle?”


“That itty bitty gargoyle could drive a perfectly reasonable demon over the edge,” he grumbled.


Thankfully, Harley was smart enough to let the conversation drop.


“Always presuming we live long enough to get out of these tunnels, what do you intend to do?” Harley demanded.


Salvatore slowed his pace as the passageway narrowed, batting aside the thick cobwebs.


“First I intend to get you somewhere safe,” he said, too distracted to consider his words. Stupid mistake. “Then I’ll deal with Briggs.”


“Ah. So you intend to unload me on the vampires so the manly man can take care of business without having to tend to the helpless womenfolk?”


He winched at the sugary sweetness that dripped from her voice.


“Briggs isn’t your battle to fight.”


“You can do anything you want to Briggs, but I can keep myself safe, thank you very much,” she snapped. “You aren’t my mother.”


Salvatore was at least smart enough not to press the issue. She would be going to Chicago with Styx. End of story. But there was no need to argue before he could manage to contact the vampire.


“Be thankful I’m not your mother,” he instead distracted her. “Sophia wouldn’t have been pleased at being locked in a cell. There’s no telling what carnage she would have caused.”


Harley stumbled, her breath suddenly ragged. “She’s…alive?”


Something dangerous, almost tender, stirred in the depths of Salvatore’s heart.


“She’s very much alive,” he said gently. “She’s been searching for you and your sisters, just as I have.”


“So she’s near?”


“The last I heard she was in Kansas City.”


Harley abruptly shook her head, obviously disturbed by the realization.


“God.”


Salvatore kept his gaze trained on the tunnel that was slowly heading upward, sensing his companion would be horrified if she knew the vulnerability etched on her beautiful face.


“Harley.”


“What?”


“I don’t want you imagining Sophia as some kind of June Cleaver,” he cautioned, not wanting her to think a reunion with Sophia was going to be some fantasy lovefest.


The tough female Were didn’t have a motherly bone in her body.


“Who?”


He sighed at her confusion. He forgot she was only thirty years old.


“Let’s just say she isn’t the maternal type.”


“What about my father?”


“One of several donors.”


“Donors?”


“Sperm donors.”


She sucked in a sharp breath. “Of course. I was brewed in your lab,” she muttered. Then without warning, she yanked her hand from his grip. “Holy shit.”


Salvatore turned his head to meet her horrified gaze. “What?”


“You weren’t one of the donors, were you?”



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