Dark Hunger


Page 7



Of course, when the powers returned after the mating was complete, it was rumored they were even more potent. He became the perfect weapon to protect his family.


It all made perfect sense.


And it was a royal pain in the ass.


Why him? And why Harley? And why now?


The matings had faded away, along with the Weres’ ability to control their shifts during the full moon. No doubt a biological necessity for females to mate with as many men as possible, in the hopes of obtaining a viable pregnancy.


Salvatore groaned as the scent of vanilla flooded the air, warning of Harley’s imminent return.


His brain might not comprehend the inconvenient mating, but his body was fully on board with the program.


Just having her in the same room was enough to make him hard and aching.


Rising to his feet, he watched as Harley slipped into the room and closed the door, leaning against it with a resentful expression.


A slow smile curved Salvatore’s lips. Harley might consider him the enemy, but she was as helpless as he was to deny the smoldering attraction that crackled between them.


Her awareness filled the air like the finest perfume.


“I knew you’d be back,” he drawled.


“Right.” She rolled her eyes. “Because you’re so frigging irresistible?”


“I am to you.” His smile widened as her fists clenched and she looked like she was considering punching him in the nose. Dangerous women turned him on. “Besides, you have questions that only I can answer.”


“Did you ever consider the possibility I came back to kill you?”


“No.”


“So arrogant.”


He shrugged. “You wouldn’t want me if I were a doormat.”


“I don’t want you, period.”


Salvatore arched a brow at her blatant lie. “You’ve never been around another pureblood, have you?”


Her eyes narrowed. “Why?”


“Because if you had, you would know I can smell your physical response.” He breathed in deeply, his body tingling in response. “It fills the air.”


An astonishing blush touched her cheeks before she was roughly pushing away from the door and pacing toward the cage.


“Why doesn’t Caine just kill you?”


He paused, struck by her pertinent question. “I don’t know.”


“I thought the King of Weres knew everything?”


He cast a disgusted glance toward the locked door of his cage.


“Obviously not.”


She unconsciously rubbed her arms, as if trying to rid herself of the tangible electricity that pulsed between. His lips twisted.


Ah, if only it were that simple.


“You said that my sisters and I were stolen from a nursery?” she demanded.


“Si.” Salvatore grimaced. Far too late he realized he’d been played the fool. “At first I assumed it was traditional baby snatchers who were out to make a quick buck on the black market. Now I suspect it’s a calculated plot intended to destroy the Weres.”


“And you think Caine’s involved?”


“Without a doubt.”


She nodded, as if not particularly surprised by Caine’s treachery.


“What happened in Hannibal?”


“Short or long version?”


“Short.”


“After years of searching, I tracked your sister Regan to a psychotic imp named Culligan who’d been torturing her for the past thirty years.” He shrugged. “Not surprisingly, she went a bit homicidal when I released her, and she tracked Culligan to Hannibal where Caine’s minions first tried to capture her, and then tried to kill her.”


“Which minions?”


She was testing him. Whether it was to discover if Caine was lying or he was, it was impossible to say.


“Sadie was the leader. Regan killed her. Then there was Duncan, who intended to lead me to this lair.” His jaw tightened. “Unfortunately, Caine and his pet jinn got there first.”


Her lips parted, no doubt with yet another question, then there was the sound of a click and abruptly she was spinning on her heel and rushing back to the door.


She grasped the door handle and futilely attempted to pull it open.


“Shit,” she muttered.


Salvatore was on instant alert. “What?”


Before his companion could answer, the sound of Caine’s voice echoed through a speaker set in the corner of the ceiling.


“I did warn you, sweet Harley,” the cur mocked. “I wanted to keep you out of this, but you wouldn’t listen.”


“No…” She pounded her fists against the steel door. “Caine.”


“Harley, what the hell is going on?” Salvatore demanded.


“Damn you.” She pointed a finger toward Salvatore. “This is all your fault.”


Salvatore snorted. His fault? He was locked in a damned silver cage in the middle of nowhere, and it was his fault?


It wasn’t until he caught the first whiff of gas that he at last understood Harley’s outrage.


Something was being pumped into the basement.


Something powerful enough to make his knees buckle and the world go black.


Although the large wooden cabin was less than fifty miles north of St. Louis, it would have taken more than a GPS to find the house.


Not only was there acres of thick trees and a high fence that protected the estate, there was also a spell of Concealment that had been woven by the local coven of witches. If that wasn’t enough, there were large lethal wolves that prowled the outer perimeter and ate anyone who accidentally stumbled too close.


Caine had deliberately chosen this cabin to hide his unconscious prisoners. Beyond being close enough to his previous lair not to have to worry about Salvatore waking up prematurely, it was his most heavily guarded compound.


He could no longer trust Harley, or what she had told him.


If someone had been with Salvatore, then he wanted to make damned certain they couldn’t follow.


No one, absolutely no one, could sneak up on him here.


Of course, he would feel a great deal happier if he weren’t currently standing in the cramped tunnels that ran beneath the estate. He was tired, stressed on an epic scale, and in no humor to meet with the ancient Were who stood in the depths of the shadows, his eyes glowing an eerie crimson and his body wrapped in a heavy cape.


Christ, the man was nasty. Caine shivered, for the first time realizing that rather than the usual heat that radiated from Weres, the air was filled with an unpleasant chill.


Like his companion was a damned corpse.


Or a bloodsucker.


Clearing the fear from his throat, Caine tilted his chin. The Were had demanded this meeting the moment Caine had revealed that he had captured Salvatore. He had no idea how the Were had arrived so swiftly, and in truth, he didn’t want to know. But since his arrival, the arrogant dog had done nothing but complain and criticize.


Typical.


The bastard was never satisfied with Caine’s efforts.


Which was precisely why Caine tried to limit the number of reunions to one or two a decade.


“I told you I would take care of Salvatore and I did,” he said, tired of being a whipping boy for the Weres.


“You also promised you would make sure that he didn’t find the female Weres until I was prepared to act,” his companion taunted, his voice oddly hoarse, as always.


“It wasn’t my fault.”


“It never is.”


Caine’s skin prickled as he battled against his snarling wolf. When he was tense, it was always more difficult to control his shifts.


“If you think you can do better, then you take him.”


“It’s not time yet, you fool.”


“Time for what?”


“Destiny to be fulfilled.”


“Well, screw it. I’ve waited thirty years for this supposed destiny to happen,” Caine snapped. “I’m getting tired of empty promises.”


The Were released a warning growl. “Are you questioning my authority?”


Caine bit back his angry words, realizing he had gone too far. Swallowing his pride, he knelt in a gesture of submission.


For now, he needed the disturbing Were.


But someday…


“No.”


“Remember this, cur, if something happens to Salvatore before my plans are complete, I’ll skin you alive and feed you to the vultures.”


There was a blast of cold air and a hair-raising scent of evil, then the Were seemed to simply melt into shadows.


Caine counted to one hundred, then added another fifty just in case.


Once he was certain he was alone, he turned his head to spit in the dirt.


“Someday, I’m going to kill that bastard.”


Harley woke to a pounding head, a dry mouth, and her body wrapped firmly in the arms of a warm, delicious Were.


For a demented moment, she snuggled closer, lured by the heat and rich male musk that would entice any poor woman into helpless stupidity.


It was only when Salvatore’s hands slid down to cup her ass and he pressed her against his hardening erection that she painfully came to her senses.


Was she completely mental?


With a shove that sent Salvatore flying onto his back, she scrambled to her feet and glared down at his smug smile.



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