Dane drove the van at breakneck speed. He’d pulled on a pair of jeans—Sarah didn’t know where the hell he’d gotten those—and the van careened down the road. There was a woman in the back of the van with them. A familiar, bound woman who stared at her with wide eyes and kept trying to choke out something behind her gag.
Sarah knew she should probably try to help her, but the woman wasn’t in any immediate danger then and—
And she wasn’t about to let go of Lucas. He’d shifted after he’d collapsed, and Dane had carried him into the van. His blood was everywhere, his breath rasping out, and Sarah was . . . scared. No, terrified.
They’d left a pile of dead coyotes behind them. Left Caleb. Sarah didn’t know what would happen to the white wolf, and right then, she didn’t care. All that mattered was Lucas.
“Got to . . . get the bullets . . . out . . .” His voice was so weak.
She stared down at the mess that was his stomach and didn’t know where to start.
His head lay in her lap. He tried to heave up to check out the damage.
“No.” Her hands tightened on him. She couldn’t control him anymore, but she damn sure didn’t want him to see the damage. “Don’t look.”
His blue eyes weren’t so bright anymore. “Been . . . shot . . . before.”
“He got you with silver.” She would not cry. But . . . this was her fault. The whole thing had been a trap. Rafe hadn’t been holding Dane. If she hadn’t gone out on her own, this never would have happened.
“Been . . . hit . . . with silver . . . too . . .” The words seemed softer. “Can dig it . . .” His claws ripped through the tops of his fingers. “Out . . .”
Her nails dug into his skin. “They were some kind of—of exploding bullets.” Had to be based on the damage. They’d shattered on impact. She’d seen something like this once before, and that poor bastard hadn’t survived. Lucas will. “You can’t just dig them out. They’re in pieces, fragmented.” Smart asshole. Rafe had known exactly what he was doing.
“Let me see him.”
Her gaze flew up. Piers was awake. His eyes were narrowed, and dried blood marked his face. He’d shifted twice already in the van. Shifted twice, then passed out. But he seemed to be back with them now, and most of his wounds had healed.
He reached for Lucas.
She bit her lip.
His fingers skated over the wounds, and his breath hissed out when he saw the full extent of the injuries. “Can you shift, man?”
The lines on Lucas’s face had deepened. If I could . . . I . . . would . . . have . . .”
But he’d wasted all his energy, fighting for her.
“We need to get him to a hospital,” Piers yelled to Dane. The woman with the gag froze, her eyes huge.
Sarah slid her fingers down the side of Lucas’s cheek. “A hospital isn’t going to work.”
“We have to get the silver out!” Piers snapped. “Either we dig it out or—”
She grabbed his hand, held tight. “It’s in his blood.” Her voice was low, but she knew Lucas still heard her. “Don’t you understand? It’s fragmented, in his organs, in his blood—in him.” Burning him alive, from the inside out. The legends about wolves and silver had been so true. Some called it an allergy. A genetic quirk.
But silver could truly kill a wolf shifter. The more intense the exposure, the quicker the death. And you didn’t get more intense than a blood exposure. “We need more than a doctor,” she whispered and felt just as she’d felt months before. Helpless. Because Sarah was very afraid that Lucas would be dying in her arms.
Not what I planned.
“What the hell?” Came Dane’s snarl. “He’s not dying!”
Lucas’s gaze was on Sarah. She knew he saw the knowledge there. “I . . . am,” he said. Soft. Not sad. Not afraid. Not Lucas.
Her cheek was wet. Blood or tears? Or both?
“Who can help him?” Piers asked, voice breaking.
Sarah couldn’t look away from Lucas.
Piers grabbed her upper arm. Shook her. “Who can help him?”
She pressed her lips together to control the tremble. The van hit a pothole and they all lurched, but Piers’s grip never wavered. “You know any witches?” she whispered, and she wasn’t kidding. “Because that’s what it’s going to take. Medicine won’t work. We need magic.” So much blood. Soon he’d bleed silver. “One hell of a lot of magic.”
She took a breath and smelled death. “You know anyone with that kind of power, Piers?”
His hold eased on her. “Yeah, yeah, I do.”
Her gaze flew up and a rush of wild hope had her choking on her breath.
“Dane . . .” Piers’s face could have been cut from rock. “Turn this bitch around and get us to Gaines and Hillray.”
Lucas stiffened against her. “Piers . . .”
“If Marie Dusean can’t help you, no one can,” Piers said. “Look, I been keeping track of her group since that vampire hell, I know where they are. Believe me, if anyone can help, she can.”
“If she will,” Dane called from the front, and the van swerved as he turned the vehicle around.
A hard curl lifted Piers’s lips. “Tell me, charmer, have you ever heard of the mambo?”
Mambo. The hair on her arms rose. Mambo . . . voodoo priestess.
He nodded. “If anyone has power in LA, it’s her.” His stare dropped to Lucas. The alpha’s eyes had drifted closed. “You hold on, dammit! We got some power coming.”
It had just better be enough.
Because if it wasn’t, Lucas would die.
The sun had set when they reached the house on Gaines and Hillray. Men and women in white stood along the porch of the long, rambling house, and when the van squealed to a stop, they didn’t race forward, but they didn’t run away, either. They just turned toward the road. Watched. Waited.
Dane spun in his seat. “You think she’ll see us?”
Piers shoved open the back doors. “I’m not giving her a choice.”
“There’s always a choice, wolf,” a deep, masculine voice said. The voice rose and fell with the musical cadence of a Haitian accent.
The owner of that voice—a tall, dark-skinned man—stood just beyond the van. His arms were crossed over his chest. His head was cocked, and his too-knowing eyes were on Lucas. Like the others, he wore white. Loose white pants, white shirt, and even some kind of long, white scarf that had been wound around his neck.
Piers jumped from the van. “We need to see Marie.”
The man’s gaze drifted to him. “Mambo don’t want to see you, wolf. After the way you disrespected her last home . . .” He shrugged. “Take your dead and go. You’re not gettin’ help here.”
But they had to get help. There wasn’t another option.
“We were looking for our pack member.” It sounded like the words were gritted from between Piers’s teeth. “We weren’t after the mambo, just the vampires.”
“But you came on the mambo’s land. You came as animals and you attacked when the mambo was near.”
“Fine. I’m fucking sorry, okay? But we need—”
“Please,” Sarah whispered because Lucas wasn’t moving anymore. Didn’t seem to be breathing. “If she can help him—please.”
Sarah lowered her lips to Lucas’s. She pressed her mouth to his. You’re supposed to be the strongest, the most bad-ass. You can’t go out like this.
Anger had her blood heating and her body shaking.
I won’t let you go out like this.
She kissed him again. Tasted salt and blood. Then she eased him carefully off her lap. His blood smeared across her clothes, but she didn’t care. She held his head carefully, easing him down to the bed of the van. Then Sarah hurried forward, her eyes going to the big brick wall of a Haitian who was between her and—
Marie Dusean. Voodoo priestess extraordinaire. Oh, damn but the stories she’d heard about ladies with power like Marie’s . . .
She jumped from the van, and would have fallen, if Piers hadn’t caught her so quickly. “Please,” she said again, looking up, way up, at the man’s face. Now that they were closer, she could see the scars that criss-crossed the right side of his face. “We need her help.”
His gaze narrowed on her. “You smell like wolf.”
“His blood’s on me.” Literally, figuratively, every way.
The Haitian’s nostrils flared. “Charmer.” He sighed out the word and his mouth curved. “Lost little charmer out among the wolves.”
“I’m not lost.” Not anymore. “I—”
A woman walked up behind the brick wall. A woman with long, braided black hair and skin that seemed to shine under the moon’s light. The woman wore white, too. A light, gauzy top and a skirt that barely skimmed the tops of her long legs. And a thin white scarf circled her neck—just like the Haitian’s. The woman pointed one slender finger at Sarah. “Marie wants to see her.” No Haitian accent from her. Just the soft rolls of the south.
Sarah’s shoulders slumped with relief. Okay, seeing Marie was something. If she could see her, talk to her, Sarah was sure she’d get the mambo to help.
Sarah brushed by Piers. The woman’s fingers wrapped around her wrist. Piers tried to step forward and go with her.
The Haitian shoved a hand against Piers’s chest. “Not you, wolf.”
Sarah kept her head up as she followed the woman in white. The wooden porch steps creaked beneath her feet, and the light from inside the house—soft, flickering light—seemed to beckon her closer. Candlelight. The whole place was lit with—
Sarah almost tripped as she headed into the house. She glanced down quickly at the doorway. Some kind of dark red dirt lined the entranceway.
“The wolf would never have made it past the door,” her guide said, her voice soft, but she didn’t glance back.
Sarah kept following the other woman, aware of the fierce tension in her shoulders and the blood that was literally on her hands. Have to hurry. Because Lucas didn’t have much time. Not much time at all.
“Go in there.” The woman freed Sarah’s wrist and pointed to the white door on the left.
Sarah lifted her hand to knock.
“No, just go in. She’s waiting for you.”
Sarah’s fingers shook a bit when she grasped the doorknob. She twisted it and the door swung inward with a groan.
More candles. Flickering. The scents of jasmine and vanilla hung in the air. And in the far right corner, a woman leaned over an old wooden table. Her long hair—a shade of smoke between black and pure gray—cloaked her features.
“Come in, child,” she murmured, her voice rising and falling in the same rhythm as the man. Her native accent. Haiti. Marie Dusean lifted her head and her hair slipped back, revealing a face lined with knowledge and time, a face that was strangely beautiful. Otherworldly. But Marie’s eyes . . . those blue eyes were cloudy. Far too cloudy to see.
Cataracts? Was that—
“I can see everything I need to see,” Marie told her. “Far more than you.” Her gnarled fingers lifted and she beckoned Sarah closer. An empty seat waited on the other side of the table.
Sarah walked forward slowly as her gaze searched the shadows. The wooden floor creaked beneath her.
“Only us,” Marie told her. “No more eyes . . . no more ears . . .”
Sarah’s fingers slid over the back of the chair. “I have a friend outside. He needs your help.”
Those blank eyes stared up at her and a faint smile curved Marie’s lips. A smile that was the faintest bit cruel. “What makes you think I’d want to help the wolf?”
Her palms were sweating. “Because he’ll die if you don’t.”
Marie’s hands slapped against the wooden table top. “Might anyway.”
Marie leaned forward. “Matters so much to you, does he?”
Sarah eased around the chair and sat, hard, her knees weak. Was Marie reading her mind? “He saved me. I can’t let him die.”
“Can’t stop Death.” A shrug. “Not when he’s coming.” Those eyes were just eerie as they locked on her. “He’s coming for you, charmer.”
First the Haitian, now the mambo. “How did you know I was—”
“Special . . . aren’t you?” The thin shawl around Marie’s shoulders slipped a bit. “Better be careful. Some would kill for a little power.”
“I’m just here about Lucas.” She reached forward, scared but determined, and caught the mambo’s hands in hers. “Please. I’ll do anything. ”
Marie laughed and the hollow sound chilled Sarah. “How badly do you want him?”
The hair on her nape rose.
“What would you trade?” Marie pressed.
“Um . . . what I thought. Not yet ready to give your life for his, are you?”
The woman was jerking her around. Ancient or not, this Marie was as sharp as they came. “Can you save him?” Maybe she hadn’t been asking the right questions.
“I can do anything.” Not boasting. Sounded just like Marie was stating a fact.
“Two ways . . . Stop him before Death comes . . .” Her eyes slit a bit. “Drag him back after. But, you might not like how he comes back.”