She slammed her fists into the screen once more. “That howl meant the wolves are coming after you!”

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And she saw it then, the fast, dark streak of an animal running in front of the squad car. A wolf.

“Shit!” Bruce’s yell, and he yanked the wheel to the right. The car’s fender slammed into a big, green dumpster and Sarah’s head smacked into the screen.

The world went a quick shade of gray as pain blasted through her head. She blinked a few times, and touched her head—no blood. Well, that was something.

“Get out!”

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Her head craned to the right. Bruce had her door open. His gun pointed right at her. “Get out!” He yelled again.

He thought he’d pull her out and kill her? Because it had to look like she’d run, right? “Make me, asshole,” she dared.

He lunged forward and grabbed her arm.

A low, fierce growl vibrated in the air. Then . . .

“You don’t want to do that,” Lucas said. “Because if you hurt her, I’ll have to rip you open.”

Chapter 7

The cop froze, then spun to face him. Good old Bruce had his gun up, and Lucas really wasn’t surprised when the asshole fired at him. Not surprised, but really pissed off.

Lucas moved, fast—not fast enough—and the first bullet blazed a path across the side of his shoulder. The second bullet missed, and the cop didn’t get a chance to shoot the third one. Lucas caught him and slammed Bruce’s back into the side of the patrol car. The cop’s gun clattered to the ground.

Sarah scrambled out of the car. “Get the keys to the cuffs!”

Sure, right after he sliced—

“Lucas, he’s working with Jess and Rafe!”

That froze his claws. “Is he now.” He smiled down at the cop. Bruce’s eyes were bulging.

Sarah shoved in close and ripped the keys from Bruce’s belt. She fumbled a bit, swearing, as she fought the lock. He heard the soft snick, then she said, “He was going to deliver my body to them—”

Lucas’s teeth snapped together and his fingers squeezed that fat neck. Bruce’s face went that fast, deep purple.

“D-daugh . . . ter . . .” The gasped word huffed from Bruce’s lips.

Sarah’s hand brushed over Lucas’s arm. “We all have our reasons for making deals with the devil, don’t we?”

What? He glanced at her, but never eased his grip. Her gaze was on him, not the cop. She seemed even paler, and the scent of smoke clung to her.

“Trust me on this, Lucas,” she said. “You don’t want to kill a cop.”

Actually, he did. Very much so.

She rolled her shoulders and winced a bit. “If he dies right now, guess who this will be pinned on?”

It would be—

“Me,” she muttered, not giving him a chance to answer. “Now ease up on him, okay? The guy’s gonna black out any second.”

For her, he eased his grip. Bruce sucked in a deep gulp of air.

A snarl broke from the shadows. Piers, still in wolf form.

“You stay back, too,” Sarah called, huffing out a breath. “We can’t kill him,” she said. “We need him.”

“I don’t need the dickhead.” Bruce had been going to trade Sarah?

No, he’d been ready to dump her body into the hands of the highest bidder. Fuck that. Lucas lifted the guy up and rammed him back against the patrol car. Bruce’s head hit the top of the car and his eyes rolled back in his head. Lucas let the bastard drop to the ground.

Then he turned on Sarah. “What the hell happened to you?” His nostrils flared. “Why do I smell your blood?” And the scent was driving him crazy. The beast inside loved the smell of blood. Went wild when prey bled, but . . .

But Sarah wasn’t prey, and the beast was having a whole different reaction to her blood. Kill. Punish. Destroy.

Sarah blinked at him. “Ah, Lucas . . .”

But he’d already pinpointed the blood. A wound on her arm. A white bandage that was already coming loose and he could still smell—“You were shot.”

“Yes, well, when all hell broke loose at that place, I got caught in the cross-fire.”

Because he’d left her. His fingers brushed lightly down her arm, careful to avoid the wound. “You won’t get caught again.”

She laughed at that. A bitter, mocking laugh. “Dude, getting caught is the story of my life.”

His back teeth clenched.

Sarah glanced over her shoulder. “And if we don’t get out of here soon, more cops will be on the scene and we’ll both get tossed in cages.”

Not gonna happen. “You smell like ash.”

Her chin shot up. “Well, I guess that’s better than smelling like shit.”

What? A quick laugh broke from him.

Sarah’s eyes widened.

Oh, damn, but she was dangerous.

“Don’t do it, Sarah,” he warned her, as the laughter faded as quickly as it had come.

She eased away from him. Was she afraid? Finally. She should be afraid. If she knew everything he wanted to do to her, she’d be fucking terrified.

“D-do what?” She almost tripped over the gun Bruce had dropped. She bent and scooped it up with fingers that shook. “I’m not doing anything to you.”

She was, even if she didn’t realize it. If he wanted a woman too much—the way I want Sarah—that lust could become dangerous. To her and to him.

But I already want her too much. So much that I can taste her on my tongue. Not ash and blood. Sweet candy.

Her gaze searched the darkness of the alley. “Tell me you have a car around here.”

Even better, he’d stashed his motorcycle. He’d followed her from the station, taken a shortcut and managed to head them off.

He held out his hand to her. “Let’s go.”

Her eyes dropped to the hand. “I knew you’d be coming for me.”

Trust? From her? Her fingers rose and curled around his offered hand. Her touch was soft, warm. The cop would have killed her.

He slanted a glance toward the shadows, where he knew Piers waited for orders. “I’m getting her back to the main house. You take care of him.”

Piers would understand.

Lucas caught the slight relaxing of Sarah’s shoulders. “There’s just some blood you don’t want on your hands,” she said.

They walked away from the cop. Lucas steered her to the left, toward his motorcycle and away from Piers.

They’d taken about five steps when he heard the soft rustle of clothes, then a soft click. Fuck. Every cop had a backup weapon.

“I’m gettin’ that damn money!” Bruce shouted. “I need it—”

Lucas shoved Sarah to the ground and whirled with claws up. Piers snarled as he lunged from the shadows.

Bruce crouched on the ground, the weapon aimed, a twisted smile on his face. “I’m takin’ that bounty—”

A bullet slammed into Bruce’s chest just as the cop fired his gun. Bruce blinked, once, twice, and a gurgle rolled in his throat. His body slumped, and he managed, “Kel . . .”

“L-Lucas?” Sarah grabbed him and spun him to face her. “Are you all right?”

He’d been shot. He glanced down. Blood stained his shirt but he hadn’t even felt the hit. After so many bullets, sometimes you didn’t feel the pain. “I’m fine,” he told her and then he realized—

Sarah had the cop’s gun in her right hand. She’d taken out the bastard.

Her gaze met his. “I didn’t want to kill him.” Tears misted her eyes. “I didn’t want—”

“If it makes you feel better . . .” He took the gun from her and tucked it in the back of his jeans. He’d get rid of that for her soon enough and make sure that it never surfaced again. “There was never any chance the guy was making it out of this alley alive.”

They had to hurry. The sun would be up soon. More eyes would be on the streets. And there was always the chance someone had heard that gunshot.

He glanced toward the wolf. The order to Piers still stood. Take care of him. That body wouldn’t be found, and they’d make sure the patrol car was stripped down to nothing.

“He had a daughter,” sadness softened Sarah’s voice. “A family . . .”

Lucas pulled her through the alley. “His daughter died a year ago.”

“Wh-what?”

He jumped onto the motorcycle. “Climb on, and hold tight.” He could feel the wound now, a dull throb in his gut, but he wasn’t looking at the damage. Not now. Get her to safety. Sarah had been in danger enough for one night. “His daughter Kelly died a year ago.”

“You’re sure of that?”

Lucas grunted as he shoved back the kickstand. “I make it my business to know everything about my enemies.” All their strengths and all their weak spots. Little Kelly Langston had died almost twelve months ago, then her mother had packed up and left Bruce.

The cop had already been on the take then. From what Lucas had learned, Bruce had first started taking the bribes to pay for the girl’s medical bills. That’s how it had started but once you started down that road . . .

There was no going back.

The engine roared to life. Her fingers wrapped around his waist, her thighs pressed into his hips.

He turned to look at her once more. Their faces were close, just inches apart. A tear had slid down her cheek and that made the rage inside pulse harder. “You should be harder than you are.”

Her brow furrowed.

“He would have blown us both to hell in an instant.” And Lucas was furious—at the cop, at himself, at her. He didn’t like seeing pain in her eyes. Didn’t fucking like it at all—and that just made him angrier. “Don’t waste tears on him. Don’t waste a fucking moment of your life on him.”

He grabbed the helmet and shoved it onto her head. “Hold on.” He turned away from her, his fingers gripping the handlebars too tightly. The motorcycle jumped forward, and they roared through the night.

Now she had blood on her hands, too. But was it her first kill? I make it a point to know my enemies. Sarah wasn’t an enemy, but he still needed to know everything about her. And soon, he would know . . . everything.

There was no room for secrets between lovers.

Rafael Santiago watched as the motorcycle streaked through the streets. Sarah was clutching tightly to the wolf, holding him as if her life depended on him. In a way, it did.

The cop was dead. Taken down by her hand. Not surprising. Sarah knew how to eliminate threats to herself. He’d seen the hit as he watched carefully through the binoculars. No point in getting too close and letting the others catch his scent. The game shouldn’t end too soon.

All the players weren’t even in place yet.

He turned away from the edge of the roof. People were wrong about wolf shifters. They weren’t all psychotic, wild beasts driven by instinct. Wolves were smart, and they could also be very patient . . . particularly when it came to hunting. Some prey took time and skill to catch. But that was part of the thrill of the hunt. Easy prey didn’t make for a good game.

A few more days, then all would be ready. Lucas had almost revealed a weak spot. Perfect.

Rafe already knew Sarah’s weakness. Knew it, accepted it, but still loved her. After all, wolves mated for life. You didn’t turn away from a lover just because of a weakness.

He took his time heading down the stairs. He’d pay a visit to the coyotes soon. Ortez had promised him that the cop would handle Sarah, but that asshole human had tried to kill her.

Rafe didn’t want Sarah dead. Punished, not dead.

Coyotes. They had their uses. Greedy, strong . . . but they had their weaknesses. And Jess Ortez—the shifter was a wannabe, playing far out of his league.

Rafe had planned to use Ortez as a distraction, and so far, that plan was working fucking beautifully. Ortez actually thought he’d get this land for his coyotes when the battle was over.

Damn fool.

Good thing Rafe hadn’t aligned with just one coyote group. But then, he’d formed a pact with Hayden O’Connor years ago. And if he wanted Hayden to keep helping him, then he had to give the bastard what he wanted.

Sorry, Ortez, you’re about to visit hell.

The coyote would never even see the danger coming.

It was often hard to see it—especially when your own kind was the one doing the killing.

Steam rose from the bath water, swirling in the air around her. Sarah had her knees drawn up in the water, her arms wrapped tightly around them.

Killed a man.

Not the first time. Not even the second, but unlike Rafe, she’d never been able to turn off her emotions after a kill.

Rafe.

She’d almost felt him tonight. Had he been there? Ready to slice her open?

Her eyes squeezed shut. You had to kill the cop.

Right. No choice. Kill or be killed. That was the way of the wolf, right?

“But I’m not a fucking wolf,” she rasped, and in her mind, she could still see that bloom of red on the cop’s chest.

“No, you’re not.”

Lucas’s hard voice had her eyes flashing open as she shot up in the tub. Water jostled over the side of the old-fashioned bear-claw bathtub. A big tub. Big enough for . . .

Lucas wasn’t wearing a shirt. A white bandage lined his left side. Faded jeans hung low on his hips.

“What are you doing here?” She squeezed her knees tighter.

His gaze raked her. “Don’t you know?”

Her belly clenched. “You’re hurt, you should be . . .”

A shrug. “I don’t even feel it. I dug the bullet out, slapped a bandage on it.” His lips quirked. “The wound will be healed in no time.”

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