Hayden tossed Jordan off him. The coyote stood in front of the windows, his lips stained red with blood. The fur on his back was up, his eyes glinting as he prepared for another charge.
Jordan, take that bastard out!
The wolf leapt forward, colliding hard with the coyote, but the wolf was stronger—and he pushed the coyote back, back—
And glass exploded as they both tumbled through the window.
Oh, shit. She jumped to her feet and ran forward. “Jordan!” If that wolf had been killed defending her . . . Lucas would go crazy.
She didn’t touch the jagged glass as she bent forward and peered below. The wolf had landed on top of the coyote. Neither were moving, and she could see the dark circles of blood blooming beneath their bodies.
“Jordan,” whispered now.
More growls sounded then. Big gray and tan coyotes crept from the edge of the house and circled the fallen shifters. As Sarah watched, the fur began to melt from Jordan’s body. If he was still alive, he’d be helpless in human form. Easy prey for the coyotes.
She couldn’t let that happen. My fault. “Up here!” She screamed and the three coyotes turned their bright eyes on her. “I’m the one you want!” So come and get me, assholes.
Then they spun around and raced back to the house. Back to her.
Sarah grabbed a chunk of broken glass and went to meet them.
Lucas knew something was wrong even before he smelled the blood drifting in the air. The shifters were quiet in the SUV. No one speaking, all too aware of what the heavy smell meant.
“Drive fucking faster,” he snarled as his hands clamped around the console. His claws burst out and ripped through the leather. A trick. They’d gone after the coyotes, found nothing but a slaughter, and someone had gone to his house while it was undefended.
My fault. Should have left more men.
But he’d thought he was eliminating the threat against Sarah.
Should have fucking known better.
The fury had just been riding him too hard.
Clawmarks on pale white skin.
The SUV’s motor growled with him, a long, horrible snarl as it raced forward. If Sarah had been hurt . . .
He saw the broken window first, because his eyes went instantly to her room. Saw the broken window, the jagged glass—then his eyes fell below as he sprang from the vehicle.
A stain of blood. No bodies.
“Coyote,” Piers muttered, sniffing. “Fucking everywhere.”
He knew that, he also knew . . . “Jordan.” He’d never forget the scent of his brother’s blood. For months, he’d only had that scent to track as he fought to rescue Jordan from the vamp bastards who’d taken him, the bastards who’d planned to use his brother as food for a Born Master, a damn all-powerful vampire asshole.
But even all-powerful vamps can burn.
So where the hell was his brother? And where was Sarah?
The windows on the first floor had also been shattered, the glass knocked inward, not outward, and the alarm blared constantly, a shrill buzz that drove him insane as he raced toward the house.
“Get the hell back!” Sarah’s scream. Fear and fury burned in her voice.
He ran faster, shoving open the door and hurrying into the den—
Three bleeding coyotes circled Sarah. She had a bloody chunk of glass in her hand and she had that weapon up, ready to strike again, but then all three coyotes lunged at her, attacking at once.
Lucas roared and jumped forward. His claws buried into the side of one coyote as he ripped the bastard back. Sarah swiped out at another, cutting deep and hard near his eye. The third bastard drove into her, slamming her back against the wall.
Lucas grabbed him, held tight when the coyote snapped back his head and bit him. Bastard. He’d shift and take the asshole out, he’d—
A gunshot thundered.
One. Two. Three.
The coyotes fell to the floor. The fur began to melt from their bodies.
Sarah’s gaze widened as she looked first at the fallen men, then at—
Lucas spun around, putting his body in front of hers.
His brother stood in the doorway, naked, blood covering his body, his hand still aiming the gun he held. Piers and Caleb crowded in behind him, their faces tense.
“Couldn’t . . . shift . . . went to help her . . .” Jordan’s eyes narrowed on the coyote shifters. “Took . . . longer than I—”
Caleb grabbed him under the arms when Jordan started to slip. Piers snatched the gun away.
His brother was a damn fine shot, but then, Lucas had taught him to be. Lucas’s gaze dropped to the shifters. One head shot, one heart shot . . . and one lucky-ass survivor who was groaning and twitching as the blood pumped out of his chest.
“Piers, get this bastard contained!” He grabbed Sarah’s hand and pulled her forward. So much blood. “Jordan?”
His brother’s eyes lifted. “Need to . . . shift . . .”
Because shifting sped up their healing process.
“He went through the window,” Sarah whispered. “He took out Hayden—they both crashed through and hit the ground.”
Hayden. That coyote bastard had been there?
“Hell, boy, you’re playin’ hard these days,” Caleb muttered. “Just like your brother.”
Piers brushed by them, going for the surviving coyote.
“I thought—I thought Jordan was dead,” Sarah said softly.
Lucas reached for his brother. Jordan’s body was jerking, twisting, but the shift wasn’t coming. Too weak. “He may be,” he growled and the fury ate his heart. “Fucking shift, Jordan.”
But Jordan’s eyes didn’t glow. His face stayed human. “C-can’t . . .”
He grabbed his brother’s hand. Held tight. The past flashed before him. Another blood-soaked day. Another shifter who couldn’t change.
His father had died the same way. Was he just supposed to sit and watch Jordan slip away, too?
Hayden, you’re dead.
Sarah brushed against him. She caught Jordan’s chin in her hand and forced him to look at her. “You saved my life.”
Jordan’s eyes seemed to dim a bit.
“Shift.” She ordered him, the fear and fury in her voice again.
A ripple shook Jordan’s body. Fur rose along his arms. But he couldn’t change, not all the way.
“Let the wolf out,” Sarah whispered. “I just need the wolf, for a minute . . .”
His teeth lengthened. His claws bit into Lucas’s hand.
“More,” Sarah whispered, her stare locking on Jordan’s.
His eyes began to glow.
Bones snapped. He shuddered, convulsing. Sarah stumbled back as the beast took shape before them.
Lucas took a breath. Fuck, yes.
The shift didn’t last long, but when Jordan’s human form appeared again, his brother wasn’t chalky-white. Some of the deeper wounds had healed.
Which was more than he could say for the others.
He grabbed Sarah’s hand, tugging her close. “You okay?”
Pale, trembling, with blood on her cheeks, she nodded.
“Where’s Hayden? Where did the bastard go?”
“I-I don’t know. They went through the window and—”
“I’m the one you want . . .” Lucas’s stare drifted back to his brother as Jordan’s lips twisted.
His gaze slammed right back to Sarah. She swallowed. “I was . . . a bit busy . . .”
Trying to fight three coyotes? When one slash of their claws could kill her?
“I’m stronger than I look,” she whispered.
So he was learning.
“This coyote doesn’t have much time, Lucas!” Piers called out. “Jordan blasted one real fine hole in his chest. He lost his beast, and he’s bleeding out fast.”
He didn’t look at Piers. Right then, he couldn’t look away from Sarah. Such deep, green eyes.
“Get Jordan out of here, Caleb.” Lucas’s head cocked as he studied Sarah. “You need to go, too.”
Her eyes darted back to the coyote shifter. “What are you going to do?”
Whatever I have to do. “You need to go.” Caleb had already started hauling Jordan out of the room.
Sarah’s eyes held his a moment longer, then she nodded and turned away, her shoulders hunched. She walked to the door, but glanced back. “I never meant for Jordan to get hurt. Everything happened so fast, I didn’t mean—”
“Go.” Because he could hear the ragged tear of the coyote shifter’s breath. Not much longer.
He turned back to Piers and the dying shifter. Three steps and he had the bastard’s neck in his hand. Wild brown eyes met his. “How much do you want to suffer before you die?” Lucas asked.
The man smiled. “That . . . bitch . . . gonna beg . . .”
Lucas’s claws dug into skin. “Where’s Hayden?”
“Can’t . . . won’t . . .” Blood flew from the shifter’s lips.
Time to skip the preliminaries. “No time to play,” Lucas muttered and drove his claws in deep.
The coyote’s screams filled the air. One minute later, he started talking—and two minutes later, he died.
Sarah stood outside the doorway, her heart slamming into her chest. She wanted to cover her ears. Wanted to run as fast and as far as she could.
Running hadn’t worked out so well for her, though, so she forced herself to stay. She heard the coyote shifter’s confession. Heard the location of their leader. She knew Hayden would be heading back to lick his wounds. She also knew he’d be meeting up with Rafe.
After all, Hayden was Rafe’s guard dog. The leash didn’t stretch too far.
Rafe had sent Hayden after her. Bastard. Rafe would have known that she couldn’t fight the coyotes. He’d wanted her to suffer.
The shifter’s screams echoed in her ears.
But she hadn’t been hurt. Jordan had. Though that, too, must have been part of Rafe’s plan.
The dead coyotes wouldn’t matter to Rafe. He’d always thought coyotes were expendable. Weaker physically and intellectually than the wolves, he’d said they hadn’t showed much promise.
Other than as freaking attack dogs.
She glanced down at the blood on her fingers. Those coyotes had come too close. If Lucas hadn’t been there . . .
She would have been the one screaming, then dying.
Just like the coyote shifter.
“I told you to go.” Lucas’s low, gravelly voice.
Sarah straightened fast. “Is he—” Lucas’s gaze held hers. Right. Stupid question. Coyotes didn’t have a healing capacity anywhere close to a wolf’s. Different shifters could heal at different rates. Wolves were some of the strongest, and because of that, they could survive almost anything.
“You heard it all?”
She managed a nod.
He turned away from her. “Jess and his coyote pack were dead when we got there.”
I killed all the bastards in my way. She tried to speak, couldn’t. Guess who’s the king coyote now? “H-Hayden killed them.” Because he wanted more power, more territory, just like Rafe did.
No wonder the two had aligned, but did Hayden know that he was as disposable as the others?
Lucas glanced back at her.
“Hayden told me.” She just hadn’t understood.
His hands were fisted. “What else did he tell you?”
I did my part.
“H-he’s working with Rafe.” And if Hayden was there, “Rafe’s close.”
Lucas grabbed her hand and hauled her away from the wall, and he pulled her down the long, twisting corridor and finally, outside, into the clear air where she could breathe and not smell death.
He didn’t let her go when they made it outside. Just held her hand tighter. She saw the flare of his nostrils. “I’m going after Hayden,” he said, voice grim. “I know where his coyote pack has been hiding.”
Because Lucas had made the coyote shifter reveal their location before he died. “Hayden’s not going to be alone. Didn’t you hear me? Rafe’s close. You can’t just walk in—”
“Piers will have my back. The others will stay here with you.” His eyes glittered down at her. “I won’t leave you and Jordan undefended again.”
“You can’t go.” Her hand twisted so that she clung tightly to him.
“I’m not gonna sit back and wait for the bastards to come at me again.” His jaw clenched. “And they’ve got Dane,” he gritted.
Her heart seemed to stop. “What?”
“We found his blood at Jess’s, but he wasn’t among the dead. They’ve got him.”
And Lucas wouldn’t leave a packmate to die. Rafe would be counting on that.
He’d walk right into a trap. “No, you can’t go after him.”
“The hell I can’t.” Fury had never sounded so cold. “According to you, Rafe’s gunning for me. That means he’ll do anything he can to take me down, including hurting my pack.”
No, Rafe wouldn’t hesitate to kill.
Lucas pulled away and began stalking toward the SUV. “Do you know why he wants you dead so badly?” She called out. Tell him.
“It’s not just about territory.” Not just about wolves being possessive bastards who wanted to control as many people and as much land as possible. She took a deep breath. “When you came back to LA, you had to fight to reclaim your pack, didn’t you?”