Dark Hunger


Page 51



Styx drained his own glass, and his eyes narrowed. “There is something troubling you.”


Salvatore snorted, setting aside the empty glass. “I thought Viper was the one famed for reading the souls of others?”


“It does not take a special talent to sense your distraction. Is it Harley?”


“Only in part,” Salvatore confessed. “I need you to continue protecting her for the next few days.”


“Of course. She is a welcomed part of my clan…” Styx deliberately paused, a wicked glint in his eyes. “Brother.”


Salvatore shivered, not yet prepared to consider the repercussions of being so intimately connected to a damned leech.


“Merda,” he growled. “Don’t remind me.”


Styx chuckled, thoroughly enjoying Salvatore’s suffering.


“I assume your request has something to do with the unfinished business you mentioned earlier?”


“My curs were in the caves,” he said, his jaw tightening at the memory of Max being tortured and Hess under the compulsion of Briggs. The son of a bitch was going to pay, and pay dearly. “I have to make sure they managed to escape the collapse.”


“I could send my Ravens.”


Salvatore blinked in surprise, acutely aware of the honor that Styx had just bestowed.


The Ravens were personal bodyguards to the Anasso, and the finest trained assassins ever to walk the earth. Styx didn’t loan them out like they were Netflix.


“Grazie.” He dipped his head in gratitude. “But they need my presence. Briggs did more than torture them. He invaded their minds. Only I can heal them.”


Styx nodded. Salvatore’s ability to share healing powers with his Weres and curs was no secret.


“And once you’ve rescued your curs?”


Hot fury poured through his blood like lava. “I intend to hunt down and kill Briggs as slowly, and with as much pain, as possible.”


“You’re certain he survived?”


“Certain?” Salvatore shrugged. “No. But my instinct tells me he’s like a roach that refuses to die. Until I’ve seen his rotting corpse, I’m going to assume he’s out there somewhere plotting more trouble.”


“You intend to face him alone?”


“No one’s allowed the pleasure of killing him but me.”


“I am not disputing your right, but your reasoning.” Styx held his gaze. “I, better than most, understand your desire for vengeance, but you cannot allow it to blind you. You have too much to lose to take unnecessary risks.”


Hell, yeah, he had everything to lose.


A beautiful mate who filled his heart with joy, even when she was driving him nuts.


The opportunity to return the Weres to their former glory.


A new Lamborghini waiting for him in St. Louis.


But that didn’t mean he could ignore his duty.


“There’s no risk. Without being able to call on his master’s powers, Briggs will be helpless.”


“A cornered demon is the most dangerous creature on earth. And you cannot be certain that he has not prepared for such a turn of fate. He could have any number of nasty surprises waiting for you.”


Salvatore’s lips twisted. “Briggs is too arrogant to have considered the possibility that I might defeat the demon lord.”


“You defeated the demon lord?” a female voice drawled with dangerous composure from behind Salvatore. “What a selective memory you have, Your Majesty.”


Salvatore heaved a sigh as he turned to meet the furious gaze of his mate.


“Cristo.”


A tight smile curved Harley’s lips as Salvatore slowly turned, his beautiful face carefully composed to hide his guilt.


Oh, he was so busted.


But rather than gloating at having caught his lord and master off guard, Harley felt her mouth go dry and a blaze of heat explode through her body.


Holy…crap.


Standing in front of a half-naked Aztec warrior and a delectable Roman god, there was enough yummy eye candy to make any woman’s brain turn to mush. Especially when it was obvious the two had just finished a sparring match that had left Salvatore’s raven hair clinging to the damp skin of his face, and his eyes glowing with a fierce golden light.


A dangerous warrior who would never be fully tamed.


Perhaps sensing her lack of a functioning brain, Styx moved smoothly forward.


“Harley. I am delighted to see you have fully recovered. I trust you have everything you need?”


He reached to take her hand, only to come to a sharp halt when Salvatore’s low growl rumbled through the air.

“Styx.”


Styx held his hands up in a gesture of peace. “Easy, wolf.”


Harley rolled her eyes. “Thank you, Styx. Unlike some, I appreciate your very generous hospitality.”


The vampire’s lips twitched. “You are welcomed to remain as long as you wish. Darcy is delighted to have you near.”


Harley turned to stab her mate with a warning glare. “Right now my plans seem to be up in the air.”


“Ah.” Styx reached to pull on a loose black robe. “If you will forgive me, I have someplace I need to be.”


“Where do you need to be?” Salvatore demanded.


Styx flashed a meaningful gaze at Harley’s grim expression.


“Anywhere but here.”


The King of Weres snorted. “Traitor.”


“Self-preservation, amigo.”


A thick silence descended as the vampire left the room. Caught between the urge to slug Salvatore and push him to the floor and tear off his clothes, Harley instead wandered the short distance to stroke her fingers over the hilt of the heavy sword propped on a stand.


She was supposed to be annoyed with the Were, not yearning to run her tongue over the exposed muscles of his chest.


“Been playing?” she demanded.


“Styx was in need of a sparring partner.”


“Yeah, I bet.”


Salvatore moved to stand at her side, his fingers tucking a stray curl behind her ear.


“I thought you intended to spend the evening watching movies?”


She jerked from his gentle touch. He wasn’t going to distract her with sex.


A shame.


“And to make sure I did, you sent Darcy to keep me distracted,” she accused in a tight voice.


“I sent her to keep you company,” he smoothly countered. “As Styx said, Darcy is happy to have you as her guest, and I assumed you would enjoy spending time getting to know your sister.”


“You wanted me too busy to notice when you slipped away like a Slugaugh demon.”


He folded his arms over his chest, studying her with a brooding gaze.


“You were the one, cara, to make it clear that our mating was nothing more than biology,” he reminded her. “What does it matter if I intend to leave or not?”


She clenched her jaw. She wasn’t going to be deterred by logic or reason. She didn’t have to make sense. If she wanted to be pissed off, then she was going to be pissed off.


“You’re going after Briggs, aren’t you?”


“My first priority is to make sure that my curs are safe. Briggs was holding them captive in the caves.”


Crap. A pang of guilt twisted her heart. Of course he was worried about his pack. She should have told him that she’d seen the curs the minute they had gotten free of the caves. Unfortunately, she hadn’t been thinking clearly on the trip back to Chicago.


One side effect of battling a demon lord.


She reached to place a comforting hand on his forearm. “I ran across Hess when I was searching for you. He was…” She abruptly halted, considering her words. Salvatore didn’t need to be reminded that he’d been forced to beat the poor cur to a bloody pulp. “Disoriented, but I’m sure he managed to get the others free and lead them out of the caves.”


His lips twisted with rueful amusement at her unusual attempt at tact.


“Even if they weren’t caught in the collapse, they will need to be near me.”


She couldn’t argue with that. Salvatore could help heal both the physical and mental wounds the curs had suffered.


Luckily, there were any number of other things to argue about.


“You didn’t answer my question. Are you going after Briggs?”


“It’s my duty.”


“This has nothing to do with duty,” she gritted. “You want revenge.”


A muscle twitched in his jaw. “I might have more than one motive, but the bottom line is that I can’t allow the bastard to escape.” The golden eyes glowed, his voice roughening with fury. “He nearly destroyed the Weres once. He won’t get a second chance.”


She understood his desire for revenge. She really and truly did. But that didn’t mean she was going to let him stumble into a potential trap. Not when he was blinded by anger.


“What could he do without the demon lord to give him magic?”


“No doubt he’s already attempting to discover a way to reopen the portal.”


Her brows jerked together at the mere thought. “Good God. Is that possible?”



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