Dark Hunger


Page 53



He didn’t know who Cassandra was connected to, but he did know it couldn’t have her.


She belonged to him.


Period.


“Are you stuck down here?”


“No, that spell has been broken.”


“So you can leave the caves?”


She rose gracefully to her feet, her gaze deliberately shifting to the narrow opening of the cave.


“If we can find a way to dig ourselves out.”


“Dig?” He froze, praying she wasn’t implying what he thought she was implying. “What do you mean?”


“The tunnels have all collapsed.”


Well, hell. Of course they had collapsed.


Maybe he had died, after all. He’d always known that he was destined for hell, and what could be worse than an eternity in this dark, barren cave?


Of course, it wouldn’t be true torture so long as Cassandra was near, a traitorous voice whispered in the back of his mind.


“All of them?” he rasped.


A white cloud floated eerily across her eyes, then a tranquil smile curved her lips.


“Don’t worry. We’ll get out.” There was a short pause. “In time.”


Caine clenched his hands, his temper flaring. Had she been stuck so long in the cave she didn’t understand the danger they were in?


“I don’t have time,” he snapped. “Unlike you, I’m not immortal.”


She moved toward him, laying her hands lightly on his chest.


“Are you certain?”


He grasped her hands, his brows snapping together. “Enough with your cryptic…”


“Don’t you feel it?” she interrupted, studying him with an intensity that made him pause.


Don’t you feel it…


A bolt of terror shot through his heart.


He did.


Waking up, he’d been too weak and disoriented to pay attention to the strange sensations that pounded through his blood. Or the powerful vitality that was swiftly repairing his battered body.


Hell, even if he had noticed, he wouldn’t have assumed he’d been magically transformed into a pureblood.


It was freaking nuts.


But now, he couldn’t deny the subtle change in his scent and the growing power that was altering him with every beat of his heart.


He stumbled backwards, glaring at the woman who stood there with her Zen smile and aura of pure innocence.


“Is this a trick?” he demanded.


She tilted her head to one side, her hair spilling over her shoulder in a curtain of pale silver.


“How could it be a trick?”


Caine clenched his teeth, ready to suspect the entire world was out to scam him.


Paranoid? Nah.


“Briggs deceived me for the past thirty years,” he bit out. “I’m not going to be a putz again.”


“Deceived you?”


“He made me believe in a vision…”


“That came true,” she softly interrupted.


“No.” He shook his head. “It’s impossible.”


“I’ve told you…”


“I don’t care what the hell you told me,” he retorted, his nerves wound so tight he felt as if he might shatter. “A cur doesn’t die and come back from the dead as a pureblood.” His breath hissed through his teeth as he was struck by a hideous thought. “Oh, my God, I haven’t turned into a zombie like Briggs, have I?”


She studied him intently, sniffing the air as if testing for the stench of zombie.


“No, you’re very much alive.”


“Then how?”


“It has to have something to do with your battle with the demon lord.” Her brows puckered as she considered the various possibilities. “He’s been draining the ancient magic of the Weres for centuries. A portion of his essence must have been left in you.”


Caine shook his head.


Not in disagreement—hell, it was as good a theory as any—but in sheer bafflement.


Good God, was it possible?


Had he somehow been transformed into a pureblood?


And if he had…then why?


Muttering a savage curse, Caine paced the narrow floor, trying to wrap his brain around the staggering implications of his transformation.


He might have what he always desired, but it wasn’t the glorious revolution that he had dreamed it would be.


Actually, he felt more alone and uncertain than he had since giving up his human life to become a cur.


“Damn.” He shoved a hand through his hair, longing to fill his lungs with fresh air. A long run beneath the moonlight was just what he needed to clear the fog from his brain. “This was not how it was supposed to be. I thought the vision meant I was destined to be the savior of the curs.”


Her smile dimmed, a haunting pain darkening her eyes. “Visions are rarely what you believe them to be. They’re deceptive and dangerous.”


“No shit.”


“I try to warn people, but they never listen.” She shivered, wrapping her arms around her too-slender waist. “They always want to know.”


Caine wrenched himself from his dark thoughts, belatedly noting Cassandra’s stark pallor and the bruises beneath her eyes.


He wasn’t the only one who’d had a nasty day.


Gently he cupped her face in his hands, acutely aware of the fine shiver that shook her body.


“What people?”


“Briggs would bring some to the church or cemetery above us and demand I share the visions. Others would pay him to come and visit his ‘seer’ in person.”


“God.” Caine thought back to when he’d supposedly been “blessed” with his vision. For the most part, the night remained lost in fog, no doubt Briggs’s doing, but he did have a clear memory of being in a vast, empty room. “I was blindfolded, but Briggs must have brought me to the church.”


“Yes.”


“Are the visions still with you?”


She bit her bottom lip, her expression troubled. “Yes.”


Caine grimaced, knowing she should be troubled.


For all his frantic need to be out of the caves with the wind on his face, he was beginning to realize the dangers of plucking Cassandra from the depths of obscurity.


A true seer was…


Fucking priceless.


Entire demon nations would go to war for the opportunity to gain control of her visions. Others would go to any lengths to kill her and bring an end to her ability to see into the future. After all, when you were plotting evil deeds, you didn’t want to have to worry they might show up, shining like a beacon, on some female’s wall.


And of course, there was no telling what the Commission would do to her.


The mystical Oracles who ruled the demon world might decide she was beneath their notice, or they might make her disappear. Cassandra wouldn’t be the first demon with rare powers to be isolated from civilization for the safety of all.


And no one would dare try to save her from their prison.


At least no one with even a pea-size brain.


“Damn.”


“What’s wrong?”


“Do you want a list?” he muttered, moving the short space to take her chilled hand in his own. He would worry about keeping Cassandra safe once they managed to escape from their current disaster. “Come on.”


“Where are we going?”


“Now that, pet, is one hell of a question.”


With Viper’s extensive automobile collection at his disposal, Salvatore decided on the sleek red-and-black Alfa Romeo. It would have made more sense to take a Hummer or Land Rover, but Salvatore enjoyed tweaking the nose of the vamps. He didn’t doubt that Viper would be pacing the floor until Salvatore returned his precious baby to his underground garage.


Plus, he couldn’t deny the satisfaction of roaring through the Chicago streets in the elegantly engineered machine. He was a Were who enjoyed the finer things in life.


No, not just the finer things.


The very finest.


His gaze slid to Harley’s profile as she watched the passing scenery flow from Midwest suburbia to clusters of warehouses, and then finally, flat farmland.


Smug pleasure settled in his heart.


His protective instincts might howl at the thought of deliberately taking his mate into danger, but a greater part of him understood that this was how it was meant to be. As mates, the two of them were stronger together than apart.


Besides, she had made an irrefutable point.


The Queen of Weres was not an empty title.


Harley would be judged as much on her strength and ability to protect the packs as her skill in leadership. The Weres respected power, and there would be no sympathy for her inability to shift, or the years she’d been held captive by Caine.


She would have to earn their loyalty.


Not that he doubted for a minute that she would.


There was a ruthless strength in Harley that was hidden beneath her fragile beauty. Dio, she’d faced a demon lord, hadn’t she? Something that would have sent any other creature screaming in fear. She would rise to whatever challenge she might face.


Not to mention the fact that she was as stubborn as a mule.


Reluctantly easing off the accelerator, Salvatore slowed the car from light speed to a mere crawl, and forced his attention to their surroundings as he exited off the highway and onto the dirt road that had once led the faithful to the forgotten church.



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