Dark Hunger


Page 3



Whatever exit the cur had used to get out of the tunnel was now buried beneath the rubble.


“Which is more than I can say for us,” he muttered.


“Bah.” With a flagrant disregard to the thin sliver of ceiling that hadn’t yet fallen on their heads, Levet gingerly climbed up the side of the tunnel. “I am a gargoyle.”


Salvatore sucked in a sharp breath. A ton of rock and dirt falling on his head wouldn’t kill him.


Being buried alive with Levet? That would be the end.


If he had to rip out his own heart with his bare hands.


“I’m painfully aware of who and what you are.”


“I can smell the night.” Levet paused and glanced over his shoulder. “Are you coming, or what?”


With no other legitimate options, Salvatore awkwardly scrambled behind the gargoyle, his pride as tattered as his Italian leather shoes.


“Damn lump of stone,” he breathed. “Jagr should rot in hell for sticking me with you.”


Nearly flicking Salvatore’s nose with the tip of his tail, Levet continued upward, sniffing the air. He paused as he reached the edge of the ceiling, his hands testing the seemingly smooth rock until he abruptly shoved upward, revealing the cleverly hidden door.


Levet disappeared through the narrow opening and Salvatore was swift to follow, grasping the edge of the hole and pulling himself out of the tunnel.


He crawled through the dew-dampened grass, heading away from the opening before at last rising to his feet and sucking in the fresh air.


Weres weren’t like most demons who enjoyed being hidden in damp, moldy caves and tunnels for centuries on end. A Were needed open space to run and hunt.


With a shudder, Salvatore glanced around the thick trees that surrounded him, his senses reaching out to make certain there was no immediate threat.


“Ta-da.” With a flutter of his wings, Levet landed directly in front of Salvatore, his expression smug. “Shove it up your ear, oh ye of little faith. Hey…where are you going?”


Brushing past the annoying pest, Salvatore was weaving his way through the trees.


“To kill me a cur.”


“Wait, we can’t go alone,” Levet protested, his tiny legs pumping to keep pace. “Besides, it is almost dawn.”


“I just want to find his lair before he manages to cover his trail. I’m not losing him again.”


“And that is all? You promise you will not do anything stupid until we have front up?”


“Back up, you fool.” The sweet scent of vanilla invaded Salvatore’s senses, clouding his mind and stealing his waning strength. “Now be quiet.”


At a glance, Harley was the spitting image of a Barbie doll.


She stood barely over five feet, her body was slender, her heart-shaped face was delicately carved with large hazel eyes that were thickly lashed, and her golden blond hair that tumbled past her shoulders gave her the image of a fragile angel. She also looked far younger than her thirty years.


Anyone, however, stupid enough to dismiss her as harmless usually ended up injured.


Or dead.


She was not only a full-blooded Were, but she took her training in combat skills to a level that Navy SEALS would envy.


She was working out in the full-scale gym when Caine returned to the vast colonial home. She continued lifting the weights that would crush most men as she absently listened to his bitter tirade about the ineptitude of his cur pack and the injustice of a world that contained Salvatore Giuliani, the King of Weres.


At last, Harley moved to take a swig of bottled water and wiped the sweat coating her face. She glanced toward Caine, who leaned negligently against the far wall, his jeans and muscle shirt filthy, his short blond hair tousled. Not that his bedraggled appearance dimmed his surfer good looks. Even beneath the fluorescent lights that made everyone appear like death warmed over, his tanned skin glowed with a rich bronze and his blue eyes shimmered like the finest sapphires.


He was gorgeous. And he knew it.


Barf.


Harley’s lips twisted. Her relationship with Caine was complicated.


The cur had been her guardian since she was a baby, but while he’d protected her and kept her in considerable luxury, she’d never truly trusted him.


And the feeling was entirely mutual.

Caine allowed her to roam the house and the surrounding lands with seeming freedom, but she knew she was under constant surveillance. And God knew, she was never allowed to travel away from the estate without two or three of Caine’s pet curs. Caine claimed he was concerned for her safety, but Harley wasn’t stupid. She knew his motives were far more selfish.


It might have been tempting to escape her golden cage, save for the knowledge that a lone wolf, even a pureblood, rarely survived. Weres were by nature predators, and there were any number of demons that would be eager to rid the world of a Were if they could catch one without a pack’s protection.


Besides, there was always the fear that the King of Weres was out there somewhere, anxious to kill her as he had her three sisters. Caine might be determined to use her for his own purpose, but at least that purpose meant he had to keep her alive.


Tossing aside the towel, Harley sent her companion a mocking smile.


“Let me see if I have this straight. You went to Hannibal because Sadie created some mysterious mess that you had to clean up after, and while you were there, you brilliantly decided to kidnap the King of Weres, only to drop him like a hot potato when you were nearly caught by a vampire and pack of curs?”


Caine pushed away from the wall and prowled forward, his gaze skimming over her tight spandex shorts and sports bra. The cur was nothing if not predictable. He’d been trying to seduce her for years.


“You have it in a perfect little nutshell, sweet Harley.” He halted directly before her, toying with her ponytail that had fallen over her shoulder. “Do you want a reward?”


“And your pet jinn?”


“Slipped from her leash. She’ll be back.” His smile was taunting. “Like you, she has nowhere else to go.”


Harley jerked from his touch. Bastard.


“So now you’ve lost half your pack and your demon, and you’ve left behind a trail that will lead the pissed off King of Weres and his angry posse directly to this lair.”


Caine shrugged. “I’ll call for one of the local witches. My trail will be long gone by the time the almighty Salvatore manages to get out.”


“Get out of where?”


“I collapsed the tunnel on top of them.”


“God. Are you even barely sane?”


“Once they manage to heal enough to dig out of the rubble, they’ll discover the entrance has been completely blocked. They will have no choice but to turn back.”


“You’re pretty damned cocky for a cur who has just pissed off your royal master.”


“I don’t have a master,” Caine snarled, revealing a glimpse of resentment at being a lowly cur instead of a full Were, before he smoothed out his expression. “And besides, the prophecies have spoken. I’m destined to transform the curs into purebloods. Nothing can happen to me.”


Harley snorted. Caine wasn’t a complete loon. He managed to control his large pack that he had spread throughout the Midwest with an iron hand. He was a Harvard trained scientist who made a fortune with his black market drugs. He regularly kicked her ass at Scrabble.


But at some point in his very long life, he claimed he’d been visited by an ancient pureblood who had given him a vision. Harley didn’t pretend to understand it. Something about seeing his blood run pure.


Being a scientist, he naturally assumed this miracle would be performed in a lab, which was why he kept Harley as his permanent houseguest. He thought by studying her blood he could find the answers he sought. Moronic, of course. Visions were the stuff of mist and magic, not glass beakers and microscopes.


“Look, if you want to get yourself killed because of your delusions of grandeur, I don’t give a shit.” She narrowed her eyes. “But I’m not going to be happy if you put me in the firing line.”


Caine stepped forward, reaching to trail his fingers over her shoulder. His touch was warm, experienced. She shook him off.


A woman would have to be dead not to find Caine attractive, but Harley needed more than simple lust. She needed…hell, she didn’t know what she needed, only that she hadn’t yet found it.


Besides, her skin was suddenly feeling hypersensitive. As if it had been rubbed raw by sandpaper.


“Would I ever put you in danger, sweet Harley?” Caine goaded.


“In a heartbeat, if it meant saving your own hide.”


“Harsh.”


“But true.”


“Perhaps.” His gaze dipped downward, studying her sports bra. “I need a shower. Why don’t you join me?”


“In your dreams.”


“Every night. Do you want to know what we’re doing?”


“I’d rather yank out your tongue and eat it for dinner.”


With a laugh, he snapped his teeth near her nose. “Naughty Were. You know how it makes me hard when you threaten violence.”


Spinning on her heel, Harley headed for the door. “You’d better make that a cold shower or you won’t have to worry about Salvatore Giuliani slicing off your balls. I’ll already have them dangling from my rear view mirror.”



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