He lunged forward and grabbed her arms. “Did she bind us?”
Her lips parted. “I—”
A hard rap shook the door.
“Did she?” He gritted, his eyes only on her.
Sarah nodded. “Yes.”
And he knew he was fucked.
The door swung open. “Alpha, Caleb’s up.”
He didn’t glance at Dane. He’d known the pack had recovered the wolf. Severely injured, barely alive.
But barely was all they needed.
“He’s awake. I don’t know how long he’s got, though.” No emotion filtered through Dane’s voice. Not like he was talking about a friend, a pack brother. Oh, yeah, he damn well was. The betrayal ate at Lucas.
Dane exhaled on a hard sigh. “He won’t make it through the trial by pack.”
Lucas was still staring at Sarah. He saw her pale. “You—you would force him to face that?”
A trial by pack. The same method Rafe had used to “eliminate” the threat of Sean. When the pack was attacked, when a wolf crossed the line, the trial was to a wolf’s surrender or to his death. If the wolf surrendered—he lived, but would be banished from the pack.
If he fought to the end, either he killed the alpha . . . or died trying.
“Does she go up, too?” Dane asked, voice still flat.
Sarah tried to jerk back. “What? I’m not pack. I get that you guys are pissed over the control thing—but, dammit, I’m not pack!”
“But you came to us for protection. We took you in.” He didn’t let her go. Couldn’t. Because she hadn’t just deceived him, she’d used, controlled the whole pack. And the pack wanted their justice.
He had to give it to them.
“Does she go up?” Dane repeated.
Lucas nodded. The man couldn’t make this choice. The alpha had to lead the pack. Protect the pack from all enemies.
Even those from within.
“I’m sorry, Sarah.” He was.
“They’ll kill me.” Were those tears in her eyes? “You’d really let them—” She broke off, shaking her head, sending that thick mane flying. “You’d make love to me and then, not ten minutes later, you’d let them kill me?”
Dane’s footsteps thudded down the hallway as he left. But he was still close enough to hear every word they said.
Who could he trust these days? Suddenly, Lucas just wasn’t sure.
So he didn’t speak. A teardrop streaked down Sarah’s right cheek. Just one drop because she didn’t let the other tears swimming in her eyes fall. “You’re really not so different from Rafe, are you?” she whispered.
The fuck he wasn’t.
Her shoulders straightened. Her eyes narrowed. “Your mistake. You’ll regret this, Lucas Simone.”
She brushed by him.
When he was sure Sarah was gone, he finally unclenched his fists. His claws were out. They’d dug into his flesh. His blood dripped on the floor.
That wasn’t the only blood that would spill. Not even close.
Pack law. It was the only law they had. Human rules didn’t mean a shit. They were too easy to break. But pack . . . it was more than skin deep. They all had to follow the law. All.
Even the alpha.
She wouldn’t let them see her fear. Sarah went into the back courtyard, her steps slow but sure. She kept her chin up and her gaze focused straight ahead. Those wolves wearing the bodies of men wouldn’t see how scared she was.
Sure, they could probably smell the fear. Sweat trickled down her back as the group closed around her. And she was sure they could hear the frantic beat of her heart.
Didn’t matter. She’d stare them down. She’d be ready for what came.
“Easy.” Dane’s whisper in her ear. His shoulder bumped against her. He was on her right. Piers on her left. Jordan stood in front of her. Two more wolves, she didn’t even know who the hell they were, had come up behind her.
“I hear that you’ve got some secrets,” Jordan murmured. The sun beat down on them. They were protected from prying eyes by the thick walls that surrounded the back of the compound. So if they wanted to shift and attack out there as wolves, no one would see.
No one would stop them.
Did I really think I’d be safer here?
“I didn’t mean for you to get hurt.” Sarah’s voice was clear. “I sent the order out to stop him, but I didn’t consider the risk to you.” She hadn’t anticipated the guy would fly through a freaking window. The power of suggestion. Too strong. She’d remember that.
For next time.
Warm, hard fingers curled around her shoulder. Sarah didn’t look back. No need. She’d know Lucas’s touch anywhere. The bastard.
“Caleb first.” His command.
The other wolves eased back.
What? A reprieve for her?
Jordan turned and stalked toward the small guardhouse in the back. The guy didn’t even seem to be limping from his injuries today. The power of the wolf. If only she had some of that power right then.
Jordan shoved open the door. Piers went in first. Then Dane. Sarah hung back. Tried to, anyway, but Lucas pushed her forward.
Caleb was on a bed. Michael stood guard near him. Caleb’s eyes were open, the smoky stare on her. Blood had dried on his chest and near his mouth. “Little . . . charmer . . .” He murmured. “Still . . . alive, too?”
His voice rasped at her, so weak. But his injuries didn’t look that bad. And as a shifter, he should have healed by now.
Lucas stepped in front of her. “Why.” An order.
She tried to slide around Lucas. He shoved her back, keeping her away from the injured shifter.
“I fucking trusted you, Caleb. I brought you in when you had nothing.” Lucas lunged forward and grabbed Caleb, jerking him out of the bed. “Then you turn on me. Try to kill me.” He shook Caleb, hard. “Why?”
Caleb laughed, but Sarah heard the edge of desperation in the sound.
“Why didn’t you stop him?” Piers asked her, his breath blowing against her ear. “You can control us—why the hell didn’t you just stop him?”
She saw Lucas freeze. He dropped the still-laughing Caleb and turned to lock his glittered eyes on her. “Yes, Sarah . . .” He drew out her name slowly. “Why didn’t you stop him?”
“You controlled me easily enough,” Piers said.
“Me, too.” Disgusted, from Dane.
What? Now they thought she was working with Caleb? With Rafe? Jerks. What did a woman have to do to prove her loyalty? Other than risking her life for them. Been there, done that. So she’d lied, more than once. But she’d also fought for their sorry asses, and she’d gone to the damn edge to save Lucas in the mambo’s house. “He has a shield,” she gritted from between clenched teeth. “I couldn’t get past it. I couldn’t get to him.”
“But you could get to all of us?” Piers pressed.
Now she was getting scared and pissed. “With barely a thought.”
His eyes slit at that. What? What was he going to do? Force her to face the pack in a life-or-death battle? Already doing that.
Caleb had finally stopped laughing. Now he was wheezing. Wheezing?
“Something’s different about him,” she said, voice thoughtful, her eyes drifting to Lucas. “I couldn’t control his beast.”
“Caleb’s a hybrid,” he said.
“Not quite.” Lucas’s gaze watched her so carefully. “Half wolf,” Lucas murmured, “and half demon.”
Silence. The thick, hard silence that pressed down on a woman.
“You . . . knew?” Whispered from Caleb.
“What the fuck?” Snarled from Piers as he lunged forward.
Lucas’s hand shoved against Piers’s chest as he held him back. “What?” His hand was on Piers but his stare had turned to Caleb. “Did you really think you were so damn special? That you were the only hybrid wolf running around out there?”
No, Sarah had learned of others like him while she’d been at the FBI. There had been one incredibly powerful wolf/ demon hybrid in Atlanta who’d almost taken the city to hell a while back.
Caleb’s skin paled even more. As she watched, the gray bled away from his eyes until only demon black remained. No more pretending. No more glamour. “You . . . let me in . . . pack . . .”
“So you had demon blood.” Lucas shrugged. “At the core, you’re wolf.” A pause. “Or you were.”
Until he’d betrayed the pack.
A demon. That would explain why she hadn’t been able to get into Caleb’s head. Demons, even the low-level ones, had psychic powers. In the Other world, demons were gifted with many powers. Low-level demons, those who ranged on the scale from one to three, could barely work most magic. They could do glamour spells, but little else. But the higher end demons, those with a power scale of seven or higher, those were the guys that humans truly needed to fear. They could make the phrase, “hell on earth” come true.
But was Caleb a low-level demon? Or was he something much, much more powerful?
“Why would you help Rafe?” Sarah asked. “What did he have on you?” Because she knew the way Rafe worked. He loved to go after his prey’s weaknesses.
“Not a . . . damn . . . thing . . .” Blood spilled from his lips.
“Why hasn’t he shifted?” Sarah pushed back her hair as she glanced at Lucas. “Why hasn’t he healed by now?”
“He can’t shift,” Michael said, stepping forward. “He’s tried. Several damn times, but he can’t get a full shift.”
Caleb screamed them, bucking in the bed as his body twisted and the veins bulged on his arms and chest.
Lucas braced his legs apart. “You’re dying.”
Caleb’s face contorted. “Fucking . . . know . . .” Caleb’s claws burst from his fingertips, then vanished in an instant, leaving only bloody fingers behind.
“What the hell is this?” Michael grabbed him and pinned him against the bed. Caleb was thrashing, screaming, snarling as he kicked out and arched on the bed.
The guy was acting like he was possessed. Just like she’d seen in an old movie once with . . .
“Poison.” Her whisper had all eyes on her. All eyes but Caleb’s. His black eyes had squeezed closed and bloody tears leaked down his cheeks.
“What?” Lucas crossed to her. “You know what’s happening?”
Sarah swallowed. Thanks to the extermination list, she had a very good idea. “He dosed you, didn’t he?” There’d been rumors about this particular mix back at the Bureau. And as she’d learned, every rumor held some truth.
Caleb didn’t answer. At this point, she wasn’t sure he could. His vocal cords would be closing soon. “Body control, vision, speech . . .” That was the order of loss. If the dose was in his body too long . . .
“What the hell is happening, Sarah?” Lucas caught her arms and pulled her close.
“He’s dying.” That was obvious enough.
“Poison. I-I think a special batch made just for demons.” All the supernaturals turned on each other at some point. Some feuds went past the skin, down through the bone and the magic. “At the Bureau, there was talk . . . an agent heard that some shifters created a brew a few years back. A mix that could destroy a demon,” she swallowed, “from the inside out.”
But each demon reacted a little differently to the drug. Demons always reacted differently to drugs. With this brew, if the story was true, some had died instantly. Some had become comatose. Some had hung on, fighting for weeks, slowly wasting away. Others . . .
They’d just had a few days.
“What is it?”
She licked her lips. “I think it’s Angel’s Dust.”
“Angel Dust?” Piers echoed. “What—PCP? You’re telling us that Caleb’s strung out on—”
“Here’s a little demon lesson for you.” Her gaze darted down Caleb’s twisting body. His skin was mottling, flashing bright red, then turning pale white. “Demons don’t react so well to drugs. Some of them get hooked with one taste, others can OD immediately. Demons and drugs don’t mix.” Which is why drugs were their deadliest weakness.
Some smart shifters had known that.
“He’s not strung out on PCP,” she told them slowly, clearly. “It’s Angel’s Dust, a poison made for demons. The first batch . . . I heard it came from the blood of an angel.”
“Bullshit,” Dane said instantly.
“Right, werewolf.” She didn’t glance at him. “Talk about angels and demons has to be bullshit, right? I mean, it’s not like you’re staring at a demon or that you’re a werewolf.”
Lucas curled his fingers around her arms and lifted her onto her toes. “How do I fix him?”
Here was the tricky part. “Is that what you want? I thought you were going to let him die. Pack justice and all.” Yes, her words had bite. Couldn’t control that—not when she was so scared and so damn angry. He’d really let his pack turn on me?
Lucas’s hold tightened a bit. Not enough to hurt. Just enough to let her know his control was thinner than it looked.
“If he dies, he can’t tell me what I need to know.”
No, and the guy was beyond talking right then. No words were coming from his lips, just blood.
“If it’s poison, then there’s an antidote, right?” Michael asked, his body rocking forward.