Sealed with a Curse Page 10

Loading...
Loading...

I raced toward the scent of death and spilled blood saturating an alleyway between a hair salon and a bookstore. Taran’s shoes dug into my tender feet like white-hot needles, but I didn’t stop, propelled by the need to investigate the dread plaguing the starlit night.

But when I stumbled into the alley, my pace slowed to a crawl.

There wasn’t a body there.

There were two.

Both women. Both young. Both with clothes splattered with their own blood. Their broken bodies lay near a Dumpster, amid a scattered field of discarded newspaper and tabloid magazines.

I wished fang marks had pierced their necks. Fang marks would have been welcome. Instead chunks of serrated flesh hollowed through to the vertebra, like a hungry dog had chewed down to the bone.

Except it hadn’t been a dog.

Their bodies were nothing more than sunken shells of gray shriveled skin over bone and withered muscle, drained of the blood that once nourished their organs and allowed them to breathe, laugh…live.

One of the women, a dark brunette, rested with h*ps twisted in the opposite direction from her torso, her eyes wide with blatant terror and pain. She probably would have screamed. But you needed a throat and vocal cords to scream. She had neither, just portions of mutilated flesh.

My heart stopped when I caught sight of the petite honey blonde with long wavy hair. Jesus. She could have been my Emme.

Heavy footsteps echoed behind me. I whipped around, growling.

The cabbie stumbled to a halt, falling to his knees and panting heavily. His stark white face traveled from my protruding fangs to the dead women at my feet. He staggered backward. “Don’t hurt me….I didn’t see anything. I-I-I didn’t see anything.”

I retracted my claws and scary teeth. “I’m not going to hurt—”

The cabbie shook his head feverishly. “I didn’t see anything!” He stumbled to his feet, slamming into a garbage can in his haste to get away. Large empty bottles of hair product bounced and rolled onto the concrete behind the terrified cabbie. His heavy legs pumped until he skidded around the dark corner and disappeared.

I reached for my phone and just stared at it, unsure who to call. An infected vampire was on the loose. More people would die. Bren would race down here to be with me, but then what would we do? Calling the police seemed appropriate…if I were dealing with any run-of-the-mill psycho serial killer.

Shit.

My fingers swept across my touch screen, searching for Misha’s phone number. In my haste, I continued to hit the wrong contact. Twice I dialed my manager at work. Yeah, like Maureen would charge to the rescue. I took a breath to steady my thundering heart and finally pushed the right button.

The phone rang once, twice.

“Hello?” a sleepy female’s voice purred.

I hung up.

Shit. Shit. Shit. And that’s when it hit me. Pack weres, like the ones with my sisters, guarded the earth from mystical evil. My eyes skimmed over the women and their mummified physiques. Oh, yeah. I think this qualifies.

I hit the speed dial. Come on, come—

A rush of fury, sweat, and fresh blood swept in from the entranceway.

And that’s when I knew I was no longer alone.

“Don’t. Move.” The deep voice sounded more animal than human. But screw him—I moved anyway, crouching with arms and claws out.

Two weres the size of my refrigerator lurked at the mouth of the alley, their stances wide, blocking my escape. Tears and gashes covered their T-shirts and jeans. Blood and drool caked their chests. They marched toward me, fists clenched, growls low and deep.

I glanced down at the bodies, no longer certain an infected vamp had feasted.

I tried to swallow back a growl. It didn’t work. “I don’t want any trouble.”

“Too late for that, sweetheart. Chris, she’s yours. We’ll cover you.”

We’ll?

A wolf leaped over the far brick wall with the fluid ease of an eel in water. Except I’d rather have taken on an eel. Four hundred pounds of pissed-off lupine with midnight black fur stalked toward me baring his razor-sharp fangs.

He charged. Goddamn it, he was fast.

But tigers are faster than wolves.

I pivoted, digging my claws into the nape of his neck and his back. With a grunt, I used the wolf’s momentum to propel him headfirst into the wall. The entire building rumbled, chunks of brick fell like hail, and a crack the size of my wrist split the mortar above his head. He shuddered once and slumped, his head firmly fixed to the building.

I’d expected more of a fight. And so had his buddies. They exchanged shocked expressions and paused, trying to calculate their next move. I used their momentary confusion to race toward the wall. In a single bound, my hands grasped the ledge of the wall. Before I could throw my legs over, one of the wolves grabbed my ankle. I kicked with my free leg. Agonized howls blasted through the night. I made contact, yet he wouldn’t release his grip. He fell back and took me with him. We landed hard with me on top. My one-hundred-and-ten-pound frame wasn’t enough to knock the wind out of him, but my jabs to his gut were.

His friend, a redhead, hauled me off, yanking my arm painfully behind my back and dislocating it from my shoulder. I roared and raked my remaining stiletto down his shin, stomping it into his instep. My dominant right arm hung uselessly at my side, but my left connected straight up to his jaw, silencing his pained howls. The second he loosened his hold I shifted.

My body, clothing, and anyone I took along for the ride dissolved into minute particles, sliding through soil or concrete as easily as sand through a colander. The downside? I couldn’t breathe or see.

By luck I sprang up as the wolf twisted his back to me, his fists up, his head scanning the alley. I kicked him squarely across the knee. Bone crunched on impact and he fell with a sickening splat. My instep connected with the back of his skull before his buddy with the Mohawk tackled me to the ground. Taran’s shoe remained firmly nailed to his face, perhaps a disturbingly comical sight to some. Not to me. I roared when his weight sent jolts of agony into my shoulder like the rapid bullets from a gun. I shifted down and across the cement floor, my lungs out of breath, screaming for air.

Thank God I’d moved far enough. I resurfaced on my back and scrambled to my feet. Mohawk growled and swore, furious. My shifting had left him fused to the concrete from the elbows down. He kicked his legs uselessly.

“Stupid bitch!”

I kicked him in the face, snapping his jaw. “Watch your mouth.”

The redhead rebounded unexpectedly and swung at my face. I dropped my head to avoid him, but he managed to graze me. The force from his powerful blow sent me spinning. He came at me again and again, legs and arms swinging like a blizzard of windmills. I dodged and scooted, off balance from the shoe still attached to my foot, my ineffective arm, and the horrid ringing in my ears.

The redhead’s speed remained quick, but hasty. The moment I saw an opening, I spun and grated my back claws against his stomach. His bowels spilled like overdone spaghetti. I’d barely gasped at the sight when a more dangerous predator blindsided me at full velocity.

My back slammed against the wall and my eyes locked onto the fierce gaze of my opponent. “What are you?” asked the wolf with the smoldering brown eyes.

CHAPTER 8

Oh, my God.

The wolf pressed the weight of his powerful form against mine, his forearm glued to my chest. But the pure intensity of his presence was what held me in place. I didn’t dare shift, move, breathe. My mind froze, unable to concentrate on anything but him.

The fierceness of his eyes softened as a phenomenal heat surged across the length of his arm and into my body, electrifying my already racing pulse. I shuddered.

And so did he.

The wolf abruptly released me. I stumbled, off balance and undeniably freaked out. He reached to catch me, but I staggered away.

Blood and ash saturated his long-sleeved shirt, and a chunk of fabric hung loose over his bloody right thigh. I swallowed hard, awestruck as the damaged muscle knitted together and re-formed into new pink flesh.

I staggered back two more steps. He followed, palms out. “Don’t be afraid. I’m not going to hurt you,” he whispered.

His deep voice hummed with soft reassurance. I wanted to believe him, but his soaked shirt and the attack by his pack cautioned me against it. And yet despite all the danger and my growing trepidation, my tigress settled into a strange sense of calm.

“What are you doing?” Mohawk screamed. “Kill her!”

The wolf’s spine straightened as rigid as a steel pole. “Does she smell like a vampire?”

Mohawk stopped his snarls, but exhaled in short, angry spurts. “No.”

The wolf continued to watch me. “Then I will not harm her—and neither will you.”

I didn’t know why he felt obliged to defend me. He didn’t know me. Didn’t he see I could defend myself?

The wolf let out a breath and extended his hand. “I’m Aric Connor.”

I gasped softly. Aric was the same wolf who had called Misha. When I stared at his palm like an idiot he slowly dropped it to his side. He eyed me a moment longer before withdrawing. The wolf I’d embedded into the wall stirred and whimpered. The Mohawk guy still anchored to the concrete spat with rage, “Watch your back, Aric!”

Aric ignored him and the black wolf, and focused on the redhead. The wolf sat with his legs sprawled, frantically trying to stuff his bowels back into his abdomen. “Tommy. Stop. You need to quiet and focus.”

Tommy immediately ceased his desperate efforts. His hands shook as moist intestines continued to spill over his arms and through his fingers.

“Good. Now breathe. Slowly. Become one with your wolf and allow him to heal you.”

Tommy trembled, but nodded and closed his eyes. Like a reverse tug-of-war, Tommy’s body pulled in his battered insides like a child sucking in long strands of pasta. It was hard to watch and hear. The bile in my stomach rose brutally, but I wouldn’t pry my eyes off my attackers.

When the last of Tommy’s parts found their way home, a thin transparent film formed over the deep gashes. But unlike Aric’s, the skin would not seal shut. Tommy buckled onto his side, panting and sweating, onto a heap of bloodied newspapers. Aric removed his navy shirt and tied it firmly around the wolf’s lesions, leaving a small gray tee to keep him covered against the brisk night air. He clasped Tommy’s shoulder. “Don’t worry. This will keep your wound closed until you’ve had time to mend.”

Prev Next