Dark Hunger


Page 31



Rising to his feet, Caine covertly stepped back from the biting cold that surrounded Briggs.


“And I’ll be given the secret to unlocking the Were’s blood?”


“Don’t worry, Caine. Soon you’ll be given the reward you so richly deserve,” Briggs crooned, the crimson eyes mocking. “Don’t fail me.”


There was a loud pop, and the Were disappeared.


Caine didn’t hesitate. Spinning on his heel, he darted back to the Jeep. No way he was waiting around for an encore performance.


Glad he’d taken the doors out of his vehicle, Caine vaulted into his seat and rammed the Jeep into drive.


“Shit.”


Andre gripped the dashboard as Caine thundered over a wooden bridge without slowing.


“Are you okay?”


Caine shivered, the nasty cold still clinging to his skin.


“Soon you’ll be given the reward you so richly deserve…”


He should be delirious. He should be tap dancing on top of the freaking world.


Instead he wished that Briggs had taken his damned visions to some other gullible cur.


“What I am is screwed,” he muttered.


Andre narrowed his dark gaze. “Do I need to scout a new lair? The Bahamas? Australia? The Antarctic?”


Caine had to admit it was tempting.


He could keep driving and start over far, far away from the feuding Weres. To hell with becoming a pureblood.


Then he gave a shake of his head. “It’s too late to run,” he grimly admitted. “There’s nothing left but to hope we can survive this fucking train crash.”


Salvatore paced the floor of Harley’s bedroom, the disposable cell phone that Santiago had left for him pressed to his ear. Listening to Hess’s recorded voice echo in his ear, he halted to gaze down at the black-and-gold bed that was still rumpled and warm from his last bout of mind-blowing sex with Harley.


Cristo, the woman was teaching him a whole new meaning of paradise.


It was more than the raw, feral pleasure that exploded between them. More than the sense of destiny that hummed through his veins. More than the relentless ache to keep his mate near.


It was the simple, uncomplicated pleasure of a man who had just made love to the woman who filled his heart with joy.


The scent of rich vanilla teased at his nose. Salvatore turned to watch as Harley strolled from the attached bathroom, a white towel wrapped around her slender body, her damp hair clinging to her bare shoulders.


He snapped shut the phone and tossed it on the bed, hiding a smile as Harley allowed her gaze to covertly slide over his naked form before jerking back to his face.


“Something wrong?” she demanded.


“I’ve tried to contact Hess, but I go straight to voice-mail.”


“You think something’s happened to him?”


Salvatore shrugged, not bothering to hide his frustration. He was the perfect example of a control freak. Delegating gave him a rash, and asking others for help, especially the brigade of the living dead, was worse than chewing on silver.


“It’s impossible to know, and until Briggs is dead, along with his ability to control the minds of curs, I can’t take the risk of tracking him down. I must depend on Styx to send out a search party.”


Attempting to appear nonchalant, Harley moved to the bed, burrowing beneath the comforter to hide her delectable body.


“Speaking of Styx, what do you plan to do once he arrives with his Ravens?” she demanded.


As always, Salvatore was fascinated by Harley’s odd combination of fierce, brazen desire and blushing female reserve.


Lured like a moth to the flame, he crossed to perch on the edge of the mattress, his fingers toying with a wet strand of hair that draped over her shoulder. Instantly his frustration eased.


“I intend to travel with them back to Chicago.”


“And then?”


“Is there a reason for your curiosity?” He leaned forward to plant a kiss just below her ear. “Do you have plans for me, cara?”


She stiffened, the scent of her arousal perfuming the air.


“Several.”


“Several?” His tongue traced the line of her collarbone. “I like the sound of that.”


“Most of them include a muzzle and a silver leash.”


“Kinky.”


She pressed her hands against his shoulders, pushing him back with a chiding expression.


“Does anything deflate that oversized ego of yours?”


He grabbed her hand to pull it to his mouth, nibbling on the pad of her thumb.


“Not when I have you in my bed.”


“Salvatore…” Her words broke off as she frowned with a sudden distraction, turning her head to sniff at her outstretched arm. “Good God.”


“What’s wrong?”


“I just took a shower.”


“You should have waited for me,” he teased, keeping a cautious watch on the glitter in her hazel eyes. Harley didn’t have to be able to shift to be dangerous. “I would have scrubbed your back.”


“I scrubbed my own back, so the question is…” Her eyes narrowed. “Why do I still smell like you?”


“Ah,” Salvatore breathed, forgetting the danger as a primitive, wholly uncivilized surge of satisfaction raced through him.


His mating musk had been in full bloom during their rousing bout of sex. She would carry his mark for days.


“What’s going on?”


“Have you ever heard the saying, ‘That what you don’t know can’t hurt you’?” he asked, his smile wry.


She jerked her hand from his grasp. “You’re hiding something from me.”


“No. If you want the truth I’ll give it to you, but…”


“If you tell me I can’t handle the truth, I swear I’ll rip your tongue out.”


Salvatore studied her in silence. The pale, perfect features. The clear hazel eyes. The full, lush lips.


A face that was forever engraved on his heart.


To tell or not to tell?


He hadn’t intended to reveal the mating. Not until he was done killing Briggs and putting the curs back in their place so he had time to concentrate on a full-scale charm offensive.


For all his outrageous arrogance, he wasn’t stupid enough to pretend that Harley was ready and eager to be his mate. Hell, she was still trying to decide whether he was friend or enemy.


He didn’t want to scare her off before he could do some serious wooing.


Then again, he was beginning to understand this female.


She would badger and pester and be as annoying as possible until she was satisfied he’d revealed what she wanted to know.


“Very well, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”


Her jaw tightened with impatience. “Giuliani.”


He caught and held her gaze. “You carry my scent because you’re my mate.”


Her face paled, her eyes wide with a stunned disbelief. Salvatore swallowed a sigh. Well, he hadn’t expected high-fives and backflips. Still, it would be nice if she didn’t look as if she’d just been told she had the ebola virus.


“Mate?” She shook her head. “No freaking way.”


He shrugged, disguising his disappointment with indifference.


“You asked.”


She scooted to press her back against the headboard, bending her knees and wrapping her arms around them in an unconsciously defensive position.


“I may have been raised by a pack of curs instead of your precious purebloods, but even I know that true matings disappeared centuries ago,” she charged. “Caine always claimed that they were nothing more than a myth to begin with.”


Salvatore’s temper flared. Until the mating bond was complete, even the mention of another male was enough to stir his Neanderthal urges.


“What would a cur know of our history?”


“So he lied when he said that Weres no longer mated?”


With an effort, he reined in his overly possessive wolf. “It’s true that matings were thought to have faded, along with many other Were abilities.”


“Then obviously you’ve made a mistake.” She licked her lips, her voice vibrating with unsettled nerves. “We can’t be mated.”


He smiled wryly. She’d helped him escape from Caine with unwavering courage. She’d faced a demented Briggs without flinching. But the mere mention of being his mate tweaked her out.


Should he be offended or pleased he could inspire such a violent reaction?


“I didn’t say we were mated,” he corrected, deliberately stroking his fingers up her bare arm. She shivered beneath his touch, her sweet vanilla scent mixing with his musk in a combination that set his blood on fire. “I said you were my mate.”


“Is this some sort of trick?”


“More like the irony of fate.”


Not amused, she glared at him. “Would you just tell me what’s going on? Why do you think I’m your mate?”


“When a male pureblood discovers his true mate, he produces a very specific musk to mark her.”


There was a short, dangerous pause. “Mark her?”


“It’s a warning to other males to back off.”



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