Let him come. He knew Alerac’s secrets. Every bloody one of them. And he’d use those secrets.
He’d take out the alpha.
He’d rule the pack.
Alerac would die.
“Hold on, Keira! Just hold on!”
The words sank through the veil of darkness that surrounded her. She groaned and tried to open her eyes.
But then her face slammed into something hard. Wait, was that a man’s back?
Her body was bobbing, jerking, because she was flung over someone’s shoulder. And that someone was running fast.
“I’ll get you out of here,” the guy was promising her.
The vamp who was supposed to be her brother.
“I have a car waiting on the other side of the mountain. I’ll get you there, get you some blood, and you’ll be fine.”
She didn’t feel fine.
She shoved herself up so she could stop staring at his back. Instead, she looked into the woods that they were fleeing through.
Glowing eyes stared back at her.
“Alerac,” she whispered.
“He won’t find us!” Ryan said, breath panting. He was running incredibly fast.
Just not fast enough.
He’s already found us.
Alerac was in wolf form, and he was charging right for them.
Part of her, deep inside, was glad to see him.
“Alerac,” she managed to say again, trying to warn Ryan.
Ryan just ran faster.
Until he heard the growls. Growls that were now far too close. While vamps could move fast, apparently Alerac was faster.
That’s what happens when you’re an amped up werewolf/vamp combo.
Ryan spun to face Alerac, but her brother didn’t loosen his hold on her. “Stay back!”
Alerac didn’t. He just charged right at Ryan. He hit with an impact that sent Ryan—and Jane—falling to the ground.
“Keira!” Ryan tried to grab for her once more.
But Alerac put himself between them. A big, fierce beast. His body vibrated with fury.
So did hers. Fury and pain and fear. A terrible combination.
“We…have to leave…” She forced the words out. Her neck still throbbed. Burned. Blood soaked her. Was she healing yet? She couldn’t tell. It didn’t feel like she was healing, but maybe the blood loss had just made her weak. Too weak to tell when her throat closed up.
Alerac growled again.
Ryan was back on his feet. “If you can’t have her, then she has to die, is that it?” Ryan yelled.
Alerac didn’t move.
“You sent your men after her. You let them tear into her because she wanted to leave you.” Ryan glared at the wolf. “She doesn’t remember her past, fine, but that doesn’t mean she’s your damn prisoner! She didn’t escape one hell to venture into another!”
No. Jane pushed up to her feet. She wasn’t in hell with Alerac. Alerac hadn’t sent Liam to attack her. Alerac didn’t even know that his men were betraying him.
“Let. Her. Go,” Ryan demanded. “Haven’t you hurt her enough already? She was punished for you. That time in prison should have been your time. She traded her life for yours once. Just let her go.”
She thought Alerac would attack him.
There was no attack.
Alerac looked back at her. No more growls. No howls.
He stared at her, and the shift swept over him. Beast became man, and then it was Alerac who was on the ground before her. He rose slowly, still never taking his eyes from her.
Then Alerac walked toward her, naked and strong, with eyes that were swirling with emotion. “I didn’t send them.”
She nodded. “I know.” Her voice was a rasp.
His gaze fell to her throat.
It was sure easy to read the emotion he felt then—rage flared in his gaze. “Consider Liam dead.”
So easily? Liam had been with Alerac for so long, but he’d go after the wolf now? For her?
“You need blood,” Alerac murmured. He took another step toward her.
Only to be wrenched back by Ryan. “What she needs is to get away from you!”
She took your punishment.
Alerac’s jaw clenched, and he gritted out, “My blood will make her stronger. She’s hurt!”
But now Ryan was the one standing between her and Alerac. “You just want to strengthen the bond between the two of you. A bond you manipulated from the very beginning! Keira should have never been with you!” He jabbed his finger into Alerac’s chest. “Do you think I don’t know the truth? Lorcan wasn’t the only one using a witch in those days. I know what you did!”
Her hand lifted. Touched her throat. The wound hadn’t closed yet.
Her fangs were out because hunger cut through her.
“You used magic in order to get to Keira,” Ryan charged. “She turned on her family because you tricked her! You’re still tricking her. She needs to learn the truth about her past!”
“S-screw the past,” she whispered.
And both men gaped at her.
Did it look like the past mattered right then? “I’m dying here.” The words barely could escape because of the damage to her throat.
Ryan’s mouth dropped. “Keira, my blood—”
Alerac tossed her brother head-first into the nearest tree. “It’s Jane. And I’m here.” He caught her chin in his hands. He titled his head, offering his neck to her. “Take from me.”
Jane didn’t need to hear a second offer. Her teeth sank into his throat. She was so afraid of hurting him—the way that Liam had hurt her—and tears leaked down her cheeks at the thought of causing him pain.
As she stood there, her teeth in his neck, his body against hers, his arms came up. Wrapped around her. Pulled her close.
Thunder rolled across the sky. Rain began to fall on them, hitting softly first, then harder, washing away the blood on her. Soaking her clothes.
“Drain him, Keira!” That was Ryan. Annoying her. “It’s what he deserves.”
No, she wasn’t sure what Alerac deserved, but she didn’t think it was death.
Her tongue lightly licked over his skin. She loved his taste.
She also loved the power of his blood. Just a few sips and she wasn’t weak, not any longer. Her body seemed to pulse with energy and life.
And lust had heated her.
Not lust for his blood.
She pulled her mouth from his neck. Alerac’s head lifted. Raindrops clung to his lashes as he peered down at her. “I didn't send them after you.”
An understanding sank into her, one that left her feeling lost. “You weren’t coming after me at all, were you?” He’d known that she’d run. Of course, he’d known. Mr. Super Senses.
He shook his head. “Not until I heard the howls.”
The howls had come when the werewolves attacked her. “What happened to them?” Jane whispered.
“Three are dead.” The lines near his mouth deepened. “The fourth will be.”
The dangerous intent in his voice made goosebumps rise on her arms.
“All right, she’s strong again. Not get away from her.” Ryan’s words rapped out. “It’s time for us to leave, Keira.”
“Jane,” Alerac corrected in a hard, tight voice. “She wants to be called Jane now.”
Ryan blinked. “What? Jane isn’t her name. It’s—”
Her shoulders straightened. “I don’t know Keira. I don’t…I don’t know you.”
“I’m Jane, and—” Oh, crap, this could be one huge mistake. But with his blood strengthening her, with his arms still around her, with Alerac’s eyes on her in that intense look that seemed to be breaking her heart, she could only say, “And I’m not leaving him.”
She couldn’t tell who was more surprised by her announcement.
Or, hell, maybe even me.
“Alerac O’Neill has Keira at his compound. The wolf has his whole pack around her, and they’re going to be guarding her constantly.” Lorcan Teague stalked around the small room, circling the human. “It’s now show time for you, Heath. Time to prove just how much you want that precious immortality.” Heath Myers was sweating as he sat at the small table. “I can do this,” the doctor said, his words a fast rush. “If I can talk to her, I can convince her that I’m on her side. That I’m trying to help her.”
They were only an hour away from Alerac’s home on the mountain. Lorcan didn’t dare go any closer. He wasn’t sure where Alerac would have his guards positioned. Some of those dogs could catch a scent from miles away.
“It’s not going to be just a matter of walking to the gates and getting instant admission,” Lorcan murmured.
Heath’s shoulders straightened. “I-I don’t smell like a vampire.”
“I’m just human. All I need to do is get close to them. If Jane sees me, she won’t let the werewolves hurt me.”
The guy was an idiot. “You think that woman controls the werewolf alpha?” Laughable.
“I think—I think Jane will listen to me.” Sweat leaked down Heath’s temple. “Just give me this chance, okay? I can get to her.”
Lorcan stilled. Then he leaned over the table. He made sure that Heath saw the threat in his eyes. “It’s not about getting to her. It’s about Keira coming to me.” They needed to be very, very clear on this point. In two hundred years, no other blood princess had been born to his clan. They were too damn rare.
When he’d first learned that Keira had defiled herself with that wolf, his rage had nearly driven him mad.
But two hundred years had passed. The world had changed. There had been a few more werewolf and vampire matings over the years. He’d heard of those instances.
And been surprised by their results.
It seemed that when a vampire and werewolf bonded, when they shared blood, they also shared power.
Lorcan liked power. I will be the strongest vampire to walk this earth. He’d ruled his clan. Now it was time to rule all the vamps. It was his time.
He needed Keira back under his control because he wanted to study her. Heath wasn’t the only doctor at his beck and call. Sure, magic was still his favorite pet, but Lorcan had also learned the value of science.
On its own, Keira’s blood was useless to him. The power was only active when she bonded with the werewolf.
So I let the werewolf have you, for a time. He could have taken Keira from that little bar at any point. He hadn’t. He’d waited. He’d let Alerac get to her because he needed for those two to exchange blood once more.
He was sure that the werewolf had given into his hunger for Keira by now.
So I have to get the blood now. The blood, and Keira.
Since making the discovery about the vampire and werewolf matings, Lorcan had drained his share of werewolves. He had received a slight strength increase from that wolf blood, but nothing like what the stories said the mated pairs enjoyed.
Lorcan didn’t want a sliver of power. He wanted everything.
Keira was his key.
“You get to her,” he told Heath and he smiled, letting his fangs flash. “Or you die.” Simple fact. Either the werewolves would kill the doctor for stumbling onto their land—
Or I’ll kill the fool when he fails.
Heath jumped to his feet. He hurried for the door. But then, he stopped. Glancing over his shoulder, the doctor said, “When I do this, when I bring her to you, promise that you’ll turn me then.”
Hell, no, he wasn’t turning this prick. But he vaguely remembered making some sort of offer, so he just said, “Of course.”
Heath’s eyes became suspicious slits. Maybe he wasn’t as dumb as he appeared.
“You’ll live forever, never aging, never changing,” Lorcan murmured, with a bored wave of his hand, “once Keira is brought back to me.”
Heath nodded and reached for the door once more.
“Not so fast,” Lorcan said. This was going to be the fun part. “If you go running to them with a sob story about me, you have to at least look as if you suffered a bit while in captivity.”
The color bleached from Heath’s skin.
“If you go to them all hale and hearty, then they’ll never believe you were my prisoner.”
The human’s pulse was racing.
“So, let’s make sure they believe,” Lorcan said. “Let’s make real sure.”
“We have traitors in our midst.” Alerac’s voice boomed out into the night. He wanted to clear the air, fuckin’ then. If any others had turned on him, Alerac wanted to face them.
The werewolves—all in human form—were gathered around him. At his announcement, there were uneasy murmurs from the group.
Jane stood just behind Alerac, with her brother close at her side.
Ryan. That man was going to keep being a fuckin’ thorn in his side.
But Alerac owed him. Because it seemed that Ryan had saved Jane’s life at that stream.
“What do you mean, traitors?” Finn demanded, his eyes narrowed and his brow furrowed.
“Liam attacked my mate tonight. He took her blood. He tried to take her from me.” The rage was still there. The rage and the pain of betrayal. Liam had been at his side for so long. How had he missed this? How? “Three werewolves were with him. Saul. Benjamin, and Mitchell.” He let his gaze sweep the group. “Those three are dead, killed by my claws, but Liam escaped.”