Authors: Rebecca Zanetti
“He hunted me for months, knew all about me, and then got all carnal with me. For years, he’s known who I am . . . and hasn’t told.” She slammed both hands on her hips and stepped toward him. “Time to fess up.”
Jase growled low. “The king isn’t going to like your silence, Vilks.”
“I don’t answer to your brother, Kayrs,” Terrent snapped back.
Tension filled the air. Maggie sighed and inserted herself between the two furious males. “Let’s all take a deep breath.We’re allies and should act as such.” She pressed her hands together. “While the Bane’s Council doesn’t answer to anybody, they are part of the Realm, and we work as a team.”
The men continued to glare over her head.
Jase settled his stance. “Who the hell is she?”
Terrent’s nostrils flared. Slowly, he turned his head until his gaze pierced Maggie’s. “My mate.”
by Rebecca Zanetti
Copyright © 2013 Rebecca Zanetti
The wolf ’s smile hinted at danger. Even in human form, Terrent Vilks was all male animal.
Maggie settled her shoulders and relaxed into the floral chair in the formal parlor. After living with stubborn-assed vampires for a decade, she at least knew how to
Though the butterflies dancing through her stomach mocked her. She blinked and sighed in what she hoped sounded like boredom.
“So, you’re finally where I want you.” Low and rough, Terrent’s voice bounced off the crackling stone fireplace.
“Well, I guess it’s your turn,” she said, her chin lifting.
Reminding him of the argument they’d had five years previous about whether she should live with vampires or with wolf-shifters probably wasn’t wise, especially since it had ended with him kissing her. But wise was for wussies. While she might not be as tough as Terrent Vilks, deadly soldier, she was still a woman who could shift into a dangerous wolf within two seconds. The man needed to understand that fact.
His dark eyes darkened further. Sprawled in a matching chair, he overwhelmed the fabric. In fact, he overwhelmed the small room. “Please understand I agreed to allow you to live in the pack’s guest mansion so long as you’re available when necessary.”
Oh, Maggie didn’t think so. “Available?”
“Yes. Available to our doctors, available to the Raze wolf pack, and available to . . . me.”
A slow shiver wandered down her spine and ended with a blast of heat. The double meaning should have ticked her off.
But . . . no. She met his gaze without flinching, taking a moment to study him. Thick, black hair swept back from a face that went beyond rugged to imposing. Sharp jaw, high forehead, piercing eyes. The fact that he walked among humans shocked her. No way could he be anything other than wolf.
He wore his customary ripped jeans and faded T-shirt, obviously not having made an effort for her. She cleared her throat. “I believe the King of the Realm requested autonomy for me if I visited wolf-shifter headquarters.”
The king, a vampire, led a coalition of shifters, vampires, and witches who had banded together to fight demons as well as the Kurjans, an evil vampire race. He’d provided protection for Maggie the last decade, and she owed him. So she’d agreed to visit wolf-shifter headquarters and do a little investigating for him.
Terrent’s eyebrow arched. “While the Raze pack and many other wolf-shifting packs are aligned with the Realm, the vampires don’t dictate how wolves live. If you had been living with wolves instead of vampires the last decade, you would know that.”
Not this old argument again. “You know why I wanted to stay with the vampires.”
“Because they rescued you.” Terrent exhaled slowly.
“Yes.” A decade ago, she’d been kidnapped by the Kurjans, experimented on, and then rescued by the vampires. Unfortunately, the experimental drugs injected into her system had resulted in total memory loss. She remembered nothing about her life before ten years ago. “I owe the king and his brothers my life.”
“I understand.” Terrent’s voice gentled. “Still, it’s nice you’re here among your own people. Finally.”
She’d met Terrent a few years past when he’d attempted, unsuccessfully, to retrieve her for the wolves. “I am looking forward to meeting other wolves.” Regardless of her true reason for being at wolf-shifter headquarters.
“Good.” Terrent steepled his fingers under his chin. “We have inoculations next week. Are you current?”
“Yes. Only one to go.” She hated needles and dreaded receiving the third and final inoculation. The Kurjans had created a terrible virus that turned male shifters into werewolves, mindless killers. The virus turned female shifters into humans. A cure had been created, and each shifter needed three inoculations within three years to be permanently immune. “Though, I heard that there might be problems with the serum.”
“Yes. Some of the vials have been sabotaged. Don’t worry, we’re on it.”
So was she. Somebody was messing with shifter inoculations, and she would ferret out the saboteur. But to do so, she needed autonomy. “You promised the king I’d have freedom if I
Terrent frowned. “The king sent Jase Kayrs with you to make sure of it.”
Maggie sighed. The king’s brother, Jase, was her friend, and she was thankful he’d accompanied her to Washington State. He’d wanted to get away from home for a while. “Jase won’t be here for long. He’s heading out on his own soon.”
“I know. He’s using my cabin up in Sacks Mountain. The area is totally isolated.”
Isolation for Jase might not be the best idea. She fought back another sigh. “You didn’t answer me about my ability to come and go as I choose here. So far, I’ve cooperated with you and I already let your doctors poke and prod me all morning.”
“I appreciate your cooperation. Our doctors understand wolf physiology better than the vampire doctors, so we should understand more about your memory loss tomorrow.”
The vampires had tried to figure out what the drugs had done to her brain for ten years now. She doubted wolf doctors would be any more successful. Maggie studied Terrent.
“What do you want from me?”
His silence thrummed with tension. With something that kick-started her body to life. “I want you to remember me from
you were kidnapped ten years ago.”
Her breath caught in her throat.
Tingles pricked her skin.
Focusing became a challenge.
Taking a deep breath, she mentally counted to ten. As she exhaled, her shoulders lowered. She had no memories of her life before the vampires rescued her from hell. “I knew you?”
She frowned. “Um, how well?”
He lifted a shoulder. “Very well.”
She coughed. “You mean . . . we, ah . . .”
“Yes.” No expression crossed his face.
Irritation slid into temper. No wonder she felt such an odd connection to him. She exhaled. “Was I good, or what?”
His lip quirked. Amusement filled his eyes. “Yes, and you were a smart-ass, which apparently hasn’t changed.”
Covering her eyes with her hands wouldn’t help anything, but the idea was tempting. “So I’m a slut.”
He snorted. “No, you’re not a slut. We were a lot more than a one-night stand.”
Her heart clutched. “A lot more?”
Why the hell was he just telling her this now? “So, we, ah, courted?”
He chuckled. “Not exactly. I followed you for months before finally catching up with you.”
Her instincts started to hum. “You were following me?”
“What do I do for a living, sweetheart?” he asked softly.
“You’re on the Bane’s Council.” The council of three wolf-shifters scoured the earth to take down werewolves, which were crazy beasts without brains. They lived to kill.
“You hunt werewolves.”
“I hunt. Whatever needs to be
His tone shot adrenaline through her veins. He had hunted her? But then they’d become close—and he hadn’t bothered to mention it the last ten years, while she’d been trying to regain her memories? Her heels dug into the thick carpet in case she needed to jump for safety. Reality smacked her in the face. Even though she’d trained with vampires for a decade, no way could she outmaneuver the wolf. She couldn’t take him down without a weapon. “I—”
She leaped up, only to have Terrent slam her into the carpet.
Panic filled her yelp. Her shoulders hit first, followed by her legs. Air whooshed from her lungs. He stretched out atop her. She shoved against his chest, and he settled his weight, pinning her. Then he tucked her head into his neck.
The world exploded.
She cried out, clutching his shirt. Her mind fuzzed. Nau-sea swirled into her gut.
Strong arms grabbed her shoulders, hauling her up and through a haze-filled room. She stumbled, her brain mis-firing, tears blurring her vision. Bending at the waist, she allowed him to half-carry and half-drag her into the adjacent dining room. He kicked the door shut behind them.
Men’s shouts filled the afternoon.
Terrent shoved her into a hard-backed chair, pivoted, and yanked a solid-oak china hutch to the floor. The glass doors flipped open, and china spilled out, shattering into pieces.
But it blocked the door.
Someone pounded against the heavy wood. Crystal flew out of the downed hutch.
Terrent growled, whirling toward her. “Are you all right, lass?”
Her head jerked up. That brogue. She heard that brogue in her dreams. “No. You?”
“Yes.” Blood flowed from a cut under his right eye, and he wiped it away with a sweep of his arm.
Dots flashed across her vision. Tingles rippled up her spine. A roaring filled her ears. She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t see. Bile crawled up her throat.
He shoved her head between her knees, rubbing from her neck to her tailbone. “Deep breaths, little wolf. Deep breaths.”
She breathed in and out just like the vampires had taught her. Good air in, bad air out. Several times. Finally, she relaxed and glanced up. “Sorry.”
“Still having the panic attacks, huh?” Terrent dropped to his haunches to meet her gaze.
“Yes.” She swallowed. “Not as often, however.”
“That’s good.” His smile somehow warmed her. “You okay now?”
“Good.” Standing, he tugged her from the chair to stand behind him.
The scent of male tickled her senses. Her knees trembled.
She shook her head. “What’s going on?”
He settled his stance. “Flash grenade. Bastards.” He rubbed his chin, gaze on the gauze-covered windows. “They’ll be coming in that way.”
A roar filled the day.
Chills rippled down her spine. “What the hell was that?”
Terrent turned back toward the china hutch, his head cocked and listening. Loud thumps and cries of pain echoed from beyond the door.
“Damn it.” Terrent huffed out a breath and reached for the hutch, lifting it with one hand to shove it out of the way.
“Stay behind me.”
Not a problem. No way did she want to meet whatever had made that sound.
Terrent yanked open the door, angling his body to strike.
Smoke filtered in.
Outside, vampire Jase Kayrs fought back three men who moved too quickly and fought too well to be human. But they didn’t smell like shifters, vampires, or demons. How was it they didn’t smell?
Maggie tilted her head. As a wolf-shifter, she had excellent senses. She should smell them.
Terrent rushed toward the fight.
The scent of wolf suddenly became overpowering. What in the world? Had the panic attack somehow short-circuited her nose?
Jase hissed, pivoting to throw one man against the fireplace. Terrent growled low and tackled one of the men away from his friend. He moved so fast the air popped. They crashed into an antique coffee table, smashing it into pieces.
Terrent punched the man several times in the jaw. The guy’s head battered against the floor, and his eyes fluttered shut.
Jase tossed the final interloper back through the gaping window.
Flipping to his feet, Terrent surveyed the hazy room. Slowly, his muscled back relaxed. A low whistle escaped him even as he angled toward her, partially shielding her.
Maggie rolled her shoulders and rested a shaking palm against her churning stomach.
Jase Kayrs clenched his fists in the center of the room, fangs down, blood coating his hands. His eyes swirled a wild, metallic, vampire green.
Maggie stilled. Poor Jase had made that crazy roar. She crept toward him.
Terrent grabbed her, tugging her to the side. “No. Stay here.”
Jase took a deep breath, and his fangs retracted. His eyes returned to their normal copper color. “We had visitors.”
“Apparently.” Terrent focused on the unconscious man by the fireplace. “He’s still breathing.”
Jase rolled his shoulder, loudly popping it back into alignment. “I’m damaged, not destroyed. No way would I kill him . . . before we could question him.”