Lucas snarled and charged at them.
Rafe’s claws cut into her skin. “Another step and I’ll cut her throat wide open.” A rough laugh. “She won’t be any use to either of us then, will she? So I’d suggest you stand down!”
Lucas threw out his hand and caught Piers just as the guy ran by him. Caleb waited a few paces behind them. All three men seemed to vibrate with fury.
“Where’s Dane?” Lucas’s hands were at his sides.
“All in good time.” Rafe’s muscles were rock-hard behind her. “You only brought two men. Good.”
Lucas didn’t speak.
“You know I could kill her before you so much as touched me, don’t you, Alpha?” Now Rafe was taunting. “Charmers are no different than humans. One slice—and she’s gone.”
Lucas wasn’t looking at her. The fury of his stare was directed fully at Rafe.
“You fucked my mate, Simone,” Rafe snarled, “and that really, really pisses me off!”
“I’m not your—” Sarah began but his claws dug deeper and her words ended in a gasp.
Lucas looked at her then, burned her with his blazing blue eyes. There was death in those eyes. The savage promise of hell coming. “She’s not yours,” Lucas told him, his voice quiet, a hard contrast to the fury of his stare.
“Do you think she’s yours?” Laughter. “She’s playing you, the same way she played me.”
Oh, hell. “Lucas—” Damn, those claws hurt.
One hand smoothed back her hair. “Did you tell him, sweetheart? Does he know about your little secrets?”
No, he didn’t.
Lucas was still looking at her, and she knew he’d seen the flicker of her eyelashes. Too telling for someone as observant as he was.
“Did you really think she was just some innocent charmer who’d stumbled into your path?”
No one’s innocent.
Sarah licked her lips.
“She killed a cop last night,” Rafe murmured. “But her face hasn’t been splashed all over the TV. In fact, no reports of that cop bastard dying have even made the news.”
Lucas glanced back at Rafe.
“Why do you think that is?” Rafe asked.
Lucas kept his hands at his sides. Caleb stalked closer to him.
“Did you even wonder why the story didn’t spread like fucking fire?” Rafe hauled her closer. “I bet Sarah knows why she’s safe from scrutiny. I bet she knows why the cops aren’t chasing her, why they have never chased her.”
Her body trembled. She hadn’t expected this. She’d thought Rafe would fight her, that Dane would escape. Why is he doing this?
What had he told her about Lucas? I’m not going to kill him. Then what was his plan?
“You fucked her, and you may have trusted her.” Rafe’s fingers tightened on her throat. “I made the same mistakes.”
“Let her go.” Finally, Lucas spoke.
She felt Rafe tense. “Do you know what she is?”
“That’s not all,” Rafe told him, voice cutting like the claws on her neck. “She came to me for a reason, came to you—for the same damn reason.”
Now he was hitting too close to the truth.
“The cops aren’t after her,” Rafe said, “because she’s got someone covering her back.”
Sarah tried to crane her neck away from those claws.
“I’ll give you a chance, Simone.” She knew Rafe was bullshitting. He wouldn’t really give Lucas anything. “You can walk away from her. Go back to your pack—”
“What about Dane?” Piers wanted to know.
Rafe didn’t acknowledge him. “You can go back, leave her with me, and life can just . . . go on.”
Everyone else’s life.
“I’m not leaving her,” Lucas told him.
If claws hadn’t been digging into her skin, she would have relaxed.
“She’s here to destroy me.” Rafe was adamant on that. He was also right.
“No,” Lucas smiled now. “I’m here to do that, asshole.”
Thin trickles of blood ran down Sarah’s throat, and the sight had rage boiling within Lucas. “Let her go,” he snapped, the beast inside howling for freedom.
Rafe narrowed his eyes. “Did Sarah tell you why she first came to me?”
Don’t want to know. His nostrils twitched. He couldn’t detect Dane’s scent. There were coyotes around, close, hiding in the shadows, and the thick odor of blood hung in the air, but—no Dane.
“I thought she was innocent the first time I met her, too, then I found out the truth.” Rafe’s mouth was too close to Sarah’s ear.
Sarah’s head twisted to the side. “You don’t know what you’re—”
“She’s FBI, Alpha. She came into my pack, seduced me, used me, because her mission was to take down my wolves.”
What? Lucas’s gaze flew back to Sarah.
“Didn’t mention that, did she?”
Hell, no, she hadn’t.
“She’s the bait they used, to get into the pack. To get to me.” Rafe’s lips curled back in a snarl. “To get to you.”
“Sarah.” Lucas said her name flatly, not letting the fury tightening his gut to be voiced. “Is he lying?”
He saw her throat work as she swallowed, a delicate movement against the claws. “No,” she murmured and her lashes lowered. Then . . . “He’s not lying. I-I was with the FBI.”
Every muscle in his body locked. He knew there was a division in the FBI that followed Other. A division that even had a so-called “extermination list” for the paranormals that the Bureau felt should be put down.
He’d known about that group, but he just hadn’t particularly given a damn about them. Until now.
“You can’t trust her,” Rafe murmured, and his hold eased a bit as a satisfied smirk curled his lips. “Bait, that’s all she is.”
Maybe. Maybe not.
“How’d she get those scars on her back?” he demanded.
That smirk slipped away. “I found out who she really was.”
“Um . . . was that before or after she went for your heart with her silver knife?”
Rafe’s teeth snapped together. The light dimmed more as dusk swept toward them. “She told you about that?”
“She told me a lot of things.” Like the fact that you want me dead because I took out your asshole of a father.
“Don’t believe her.” The claws lifted a bit, but they were still killing-close. “She’s good at lying.”
He’d figured that out. So when Sarah said she worked for the FBI, was that a lie? Or the truth? “If she’s such a damn liar, why the hell do you want her back so badly?”
“Because she’s mine.” Rafe spoke the words in a tone that said the answer should be obvious.
Sarah’s head slammed into his. Rafe swore and blood spurted from his nose. He stumbled back, and she tore free as the claws raked across her flesh. “No,” Sarah shouted, “I’m not yours!”
Around him, Lucas heard the howl of the coyotes. So they were finally coming out to play. The waning sunlight bled across the sky. The sky wouldn’t be the only place filled with blood soon.
Bones crunched behind him. Caleb would be shifting, getting ready to attack. Lucas would change, too. The better to rip Rafe’s throat right out.
“No!” Sarah’s scream. “Don’t shift, Lucas!”
His muscles locked, and he fought the change. Sweat broke over his body as he held back the beast.
Rafe laughed as the blood poured from his nose. “Too late,” he murmured.
Lucas leapt forward and caught the bastard around the throat. “Where’s Dane?”
Rafe spat blood. “How the fuck should I know?”
Now that he hadn’t expected.
Rafe started laughing then, loud, wild laughter. “So fucking easy. And here I thought you’d be a challenge to take down.”
Lucas lifted the bastard up, letting Rafe’s feet dangle above the ground. “Dane.” The coyotes were closing in. Piers was shifting, the man disappearing as the wolf howled and broke free of his leash.
Rafe’s laughter slowly faded. The guy could have broken away. Could have shifted. But he hadn’t.
“Lucas . . .” Sarah grabbed his hand. “I don’t—”
“Where the fuck is he?” Lucas shook Rafe.
“Don’t know.” He smiled, and the blood smeared his teeth. “I never had the asshole.”
But, wait, no, he’d wanted a trade. Caleb had said—
Howls filled the air. Lower, harder cries from the two wolves behind him, and the higher-pitched howls from the swarming coyotes.
Then a bus hit Lucas, slamming him to the ground as Sarah screamed.
No, not a bus. He’d been taken down by . . . a wolf.
Dane knew there was trouble at the wolf compound long before the big house came into sight. The scent of fresh blood hung in the air, a silent call to his beast.
He stayed low, going in carefully when he wanted to run flat-out and storm the place.
Quiet. The whole damn area was too quiet. And the lingering scent of coyote teased his nose.
Not those bastards again.
He pressed a hand to his side. Most of his wounds had healed. Most. He needed to shift again, but wouldn’t, not until he found out what the hell was going on.
“Dane?” Michael’s shocked voice.
Next to Dane, Michael’s nose was the strongest of the pack. Dane gave up the shadows and charged forward.
Michael shook his head, his brows high above his dark eyes. “They got you back already? But—”
“Got me back? Wait, you knew the coyotes had me?”
Michael came away from the doorway with slow, measured strides. “The coyotes . . . they’re working with Rafe. He was going to trade you—”
“Rafe? That bastard hasn’t been anywhere near me.” Just coyotes. Dead coyotes.
“—for Sarah,” Michael finished.
A fist punched Dane in the gut. “I wasn’t part of any damn trade.”
“But . . . Caleb heard your voice. You were with Rafe. The bastard said he’d kill you if Sarah wasn’t brought in as a trade.”
The compound was tomb-silent. “Where’s Lucas?” But he already knew.
“Gone to make the trade.”
Dane’s hands fisted. “There was no fucking trade.”
Dane’s snarl stopped him. “Where are they?” Lucas was walking right into a trap. Dammit, a trap. For me.
Michael’s gaze swept down his body. “Why do I smell human blood on you?” Suspicion had him tensing.
Don’t think about her. “Caleb never heard my voice. If he said he did, he was . . .” Lying. No, Caleb was pack. He wouldn’t lie. “Mistaken.” And shit, they didn’t have time to kill. “Where are they?”
“Monclave and Grant. Sarah went first, she took one of the SUVs and—”
Dane turned away and ran back toward the van he’d stolen a few hours before. Hold on, Lucas. I’m coming to cover your back.
He owed the alpha everything, and he damn sure wouldn’t stand back while Lucas was slaughtered.
Mistake . . . or fucking lie?
Lucas spun around and barely caught the muzzle that came at him. The wolf’s teeth were dripping saliva, the beast ready to bite, to rip him open. And the damn bastard was one of his own.
“Guess Sarah didn’t tell you about her other talents.” Rafe’s voice drifted in the air.
Caleb’s claws dug into Lucas’s chest.
A wolf’s snarl of fury reached his ears. Piers. Lucas craned his head, just a bit, that was all he could manage. Piers stood in front of Sarah, his back up, his teeth snapping. Attacking her?
“Stand down!” Lucas roared.
But Piers didn’t move. Lucas could barely see him and Sarah. Caleb’s body blocked his line of sight.
“Good job, Sarah,” Rafe told her, his voice oozing satisfaction. Lucas clamped down tighter on Caleb’s muzzle. The bastard had almost bitten his fingers with that head twist. “You did real good with him.”
Betrayal burned in Lucas’s gut.
Rafe crouched close to Lucas. Not too close. Out of grabbing reach. “She can’t just read the minds of wolves, you know.” He said the words like he was revealing a big secret. Maybe he was.
Caleb jerked his muzzle free. He came in for a bite—
Lucas shoved his forearm between the wolf’s teeth. When Caleb bit down, sinking his teeth through muscle and bone, Lucas didn’t make a sound. Betrayal. From my own damn pack. Like this was the first time.
“She can control the wolves, too,” Rafe murmured. “In wolf form, your men are helpless against her. Whatever she thinks, whatever she wants, they’ll do.”
Shock froze him for a moment.
Caleb jumped back, then came in for another bite—
“No!” Sarah’s scream. Rage and terror. “Leave him alone! Don’t!”
The change swept over Lucas then. Uncontrollable. Instinctive.
“Hell, yes . . .” Rafe said. “Finally.”
Lucas shoved his claws into Caleb’s chest. The wolf bursting from within gave him power, and he lifted Caleb, tossing the wolf into the air and right at Rafe.
“Shit!” Rafe scrambled back, too late.