“Why do you think you’re still alive?” she asked instead. Fine, he’d keep her talking. “You want to use me.” He let his gaze rake her. “Can’t say that I’ll mind you using me.”
She blushed. What the fuck? Since when did coyote women blush? Sex was as natural to them as breathing—and killing. His nostrils flared again. The scent of coyote was everywhere and it was strongest around the woman.
“If they don’t succeed, we’ll trade you.”
The claw snagged on the locking mechanism. “For the charmer?”
He caught the faint widening of her eyes. “She told you what she could do?”
“Even gave us a little demo.” He kept his smile in place. “So what does a bunch of dogs want with a little lady who only works with wolves?”
“You know the bounty on her.”
He whistled just as the lock popped open. “Can’t say I wasn’t tempted to take that myself.”
“You’d turn on your alpha?” No missing the doubt heavy in her voice. “Don’t lie to me.”
“He should have just turned her over. Now there will be no chance for him.”
Tension had his body tight. “Your dogs went after Lucas?”
“The truce is over. They’re going to drag his body back.”
Pretty face, bitch beneath the surface. “If you really think they’re strong enough to take him down, then why am I still breathing?”
“Told you . . .” She paced to the window, peered outside, and made the mistake of giving him her back. Bad mistake. “You’re the backup plan. If Lucas manages to get away, then—”
He pounced. He jumped from the chair and had his claws at her throat in less than a second’s time. “Then nothing, sweetheart, because your plan has just changed.”
She stiffened against him, her smaller body going taut. Her gaze still focused out the window, and, over her shoulder, he saw the trucks spinning into the drive. The dogs were back.
“No, it hasn’t,” she told him quietly. “But it looks like your time has run out.” Then she turned toward him. His claws pressed over her throat. “Kill me.” Another shrug. “They’ll still kill you as soon as they come inside.”
But he could see the limping, bleeding bodies as the coyotes tumbled out of the trucks. She hadn’t actually looked at the coyotes before she’d spun away. “Guess again.”
Her delicate nostrils flared and her eyes—so gold and wide—searched his. Then she opened her mouth to scream.
When Detective Bruce Langston shoved open the door of the small interrogation room, Sarah straightened in the too-hard and wobbly chair.
One black brow lifted. “Back so soon, Ms. King?”
She flattened her hands on the table. “I need to be at a hospital.” She coughed, a hard, heaving cough that was only half-pretend. Damn demon—she’d gotten away in the smoke while Sarah had needed the cops to pull her out of the flames. “I . . . shouldn’t be here . . . I need a doctor.”
“And I need a damn wolf in a cage.”
Her body stiffened.
He kicked the door closed. “Yeah, you heard me.”
She licked her lips. “I heard you . . . I just don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”
“Bullshit.” He paced around the wooden table, his gaze raking her. “Lover-boy blew his hand. I saw his eyes glow. I saw the claws. I know.”
“Well, I don’t.” Her eyes slanted to the left, to the window that lined the wall. Was someone watching in there? “And if you’re not careful, your cop buddies are going to think . . .” another cough, this one completely real, “you’re crazy.”
He stopped in front of her and slammed his fists down onto the table. Sarah flinched.
“Don’t fucking lie to me!” He snarled, face far too close to hers. “We both know what Lucas Simone is!”
“I don’t even understand what you’re yelling about!” So the cop knew the deal. Maybe he’d known all along. Was he working with the other paranormals in the city? Or, hell, no, could he be working with Rafe? So many cops were on the take . . . she knew that better than others.
But if he were working with Rafe, she wouldn’t be in interrogation—she’d be in a body bag.
“He left you to burn.” Bruce’s hands lifted and his finger traced over the back of her ash stained hand. “You saved his ass, but he left you.”
One way of looking at it. She snatched her hand back.
“You don’t owe him anything,” the detective said, voice a little too smooth now. What? Where was all that fiery rage he’d just shown? Was he a one-man good cop/bad cop routine?
“Maybe I don’t,” she said, wondering where this was going and also wondering—where the hell was Lucas? Spending the night in a cage didn’t exactly appeal to her.
Bruce nodded. “Good girl. Think about yourself.”
“That’s all I ever think about.”
His gaze searched hers. “I want Simone. He’s an animal, and he needs to be taken down before he kills again.”
“Lucas Simone isn’t a killer.”
He laughed at her.
“Lucas wasn’t anywhere near that house tonight.” She exhaled. “Ask the cops. No one saw him. Because he wasn’t there.”
Bruce’s fingers closed around her hands in a grip that was almost painful. Walking the line. “Officer Meadows told me about the bodies, how they’d been slashed, throats ripped, guts torn open.”
Right. Like she needed another visual. Been there. “He was wrong.” And she owed the demon for this, at least. “And if the fire hadn’t burned so fast, you’d see the truth for yourself.” But there’d be no seeing for anyone. That demon’s fire had burned right through flesh and taken all the evidence away. By the time the firefighters had arrived on the scene, nothing had been left.
The detective’s scent—sweat and cheap cologne—clogged the air around her. “You don’t want me for an enemy.”
“What I want . . . is a lawyer.” She tore her hands away from his and turned her head to glare at the mirror. “And I want one now.”
“No one’s in there.”
“And no lawyer is coming for you.”
That didn’t sound good.
He pulled away from the table and rolled his shoulders. “I’ve got a daughter,” he told her as he began to pace the small room.
Uh, what? How had they gone from dead bodies to his personal life?
“She’s real sick.” He paused and his gaze went distant. “Cancer. Eight years old . . . and she has cancer.”
What was happening here? “I’m . . . sorry.” And she was. No child should ever have to suffer such pain.
“Cops don’t make much.”
A chill iced her skin. No, don’t say—
He rubbed a hand over his face. “You’re going to try and escape custody in a few minutes.”
His right hand brushed back the edge of his jacket, and she saw the butt of his gun. “You’re going to try to get away, but you’re going to fail.”
Her mouth had gone bone dry. “Let me guess . . .” Her hands curled under the edge of the table. “You’ll have to shoot me, right?”
“Kelly’s real sick.” His eyes glittered at her. “She’s a little girl. She deserves to live. And you—you’re a killer, just like Simone. I saw the file on you. I know what you’ve done.”
So she wasn’t perfect. “What file? Who told you about me?”
Damn him. “Jess doesn’t know everything.” Her left arm still stung from the bullet that had clipped her. The EMTs on the scene had bandaged her up, but she knew the next wound wouldn’t be one that a bandage could easily fix. Trapped in this ten-by-twelve-foot room, the cop wouldn’t exactly have a hard target.
“I’m sorry, lady, but you’re worth more dead than you are alive.”
“No, I’m not.” Her hands tightened on the table. She could heave it at him, but then what? He was blocking the door and she wasn’t armed. “I’m actually worth even more if you can bring me in alive.”
He blinked and his hand stopped inching toward the holster.
She almost took a deep breath then.
But old Bruce just shook his head. “Bullshit, but nice try.” Then his hand went to his hip.
Her body tensed in anticipation of the bullet, but he just grabbed the cuffs on his waist. “ ’Fraid you’ll be coming with me.”
Because he wasn’t going to shoot her there. Relief had her face flushing. So she had a few more minutes to live. A good thing, right? Where was Lucas? Bruce crept close to her, nice and slow. “Hold out your hands.”
She put them out but said, “If you cuff me, won’t that mess up your whole she-was-running-story?”
“Nah, you’ll lose the cuffs before you die.” He kicked the chair out of the way and snapped the cold metal cuff around her wrist. “But if I get blood all over this room, the captain will freak.”
She wasn’t stupid. This was a game she knew. “He’ll also want to know why the hell you were in here alone with a suspect. He’ll want to know why no one was observing the interrogation, he’ll want to know where my lawyer—” She broke off, her breath hissing out as the second cuff snapped too tightly around her wrist, digging deep into the flesh.
“We can do this two ways.” His mouth was at her ear. “A quick bullet in the head so you don’t feel any pain . . .”
She could barely feel her fingers now thanks to those cuffs. “Or we can do this long and slow . . . I’ll make sure you die, but I can make sure you suffer, too.”
Wasn’t he a prince? She swallowed and wrenched back a step, the better to see into his eyes. “I’m someone’s daughter, too, you know, asshole.”
His eyes widened just a bit at that.
A rap sounded at the door. “Hey, Langston!” The door swung open and a red-haired female cop poked her head inside. “You ready to transfer her to the safe house?”
The safe house? What? Was that a fun new euphemism for the cemetery?
Bruce the Bastard shook his head. “She doesn’t want to come willingly, Shirley. I’m putting her in protective custody.”
Shirley shoved the door all the way open. “What?” Her gaze raked Sarah. “You barely survived this attack, and you don’t want the cops to help you?”
“Two ways,” Bruce whispered, far too quietly for Shirley to hear.
Shirley shook her head. “You’re so addicted to Simone that you’d let him kill you?”
Now this was a question she could handle. “I don’t have to worry about Lucas hurting me.” Her head turned and her gaze zeroed in on Bruce. “I’m not the one he’d come after.”
His Adam’s apple bobbed, and he grabbed her elbow. “Come on. This is for your own protection.” He dragged her toward the door, right past Shirley.
Help me, Sarah mouthed and the female cop nodded. “We will, ma’am. We’ll help you, if you just give us the chance.”
Bruce’s fingers bit into her flesh. Guess that meant she’d be dying by option number two. The slow, painful death he’d promised.
So what did she have to lose? “He’s going to kill me, Shirley.”
Bruce double-timed his pace.
“No, he won’t, Ms. King! We’ll keep you safe!” Shirley called out, voice like some chirpy bird. “You don’t have to worry about Simone!”
“One more word,” Bruce muttered in her ear, “and I’ll break every bone in your body before you die.”
Nice. Her mouth snapped shut, and her eyes rose to the crest hanging just above the exit door: To Serve and Protect.
Probably should have read to maim and kill.
Then they were outside. She tripped once on the steps. When she fell, Sarah managed to rip open the knee of her jeans and she felt the wet warmth of her blood. Lucky for her, Bruce was there to haul her back up—and then after a few more stumbling steps, he shoved her into the back of a patrol car.
But, right before he slammed the door, Sarah heard the sweetest sound in the world.
The howl of a wolf.
Bruce heard it, too, because she saw the cop stiffen. Then he rushed forward and jumped into the front of the patrol car.
She slammed her cuffed hands on the dividing screen that separated them. “You heard the howl, didn’t you, asshole?”
He revved the engine, and the motor growled.
“Know what it means?” she gritted. “It means you’re the one who needs to worry about dying tonight.”
The car raced onto the road. Bruce drove way too fast, weaving in and out of traffic.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about!” But an edge of fear had snaked into his words. “That howl could have been from the wolf who’s coming to collect your body.”
Rafe was coming? “That wasn’t Rafe’s howl.” But what about one of his men? No, he wouldn’t risk sending one of them. Not to her. Rafe wouldn’t come close to her and neither would his wolves. But Lucas . . .
Bruce turned off the main road with a squeal of his tires. They were in a long, dark alley now. The perfect place to die. He was still driving too fast. Way too fast.