Not always. “He doesn’t have a lot of time left.”
“Then I need the cure right now.”
She shook her head. “It’s not that easy. If it’s Angel’s Dust—”
“You just said it was,” Piers fired, voice rough.
Sarah glanced over her shoulder at him. “I said I thought it was. It looks like what I’ve heard about an Angel’s Dust poisoning.” She didn’t want to look back at Caleb, but she forced herself to. Damn. Agony etched deep lines into his face. “Never seen a poisoning up close,” she admitted.
She blinked and her gaze zeroed back in on Lucas.
“I need that cure.”
If only she had a cure to give him.
“How’d you find out about the Dust?” Dane wanted to know.
“There was an agent . . . he’d been following a series of demon deaths. I saw some of his files at the FBI. Some demons who’d been . . .” On the list for death. “They were taken out before the Bureau got to them. The agent on the cases suspected Dust was used. The demons . . . they’d attacked some bear shifters near Yosemite, took their pelts . . .”
“Fuck,” Piers snarled.
The absolute insult to a dead shifter—take the pelt before the body shifted back to human form. That left the dead body twisted, malformed. A monster at death’s gate.
“He heard about the Dust then, from some warlock named Skye.” She’d remembered the warlock. She always remembered names that could help her. But this part . . . “The agent also wrote that once ingested, he didn’t know if there was a cure for a demon.”
No cure, just death.
“But Caleb’s not just a demon.” Lucas’s fingers eased their hold. Caressed with a soft touch. A hard smile curved his lips. “He’s also wolf.” He turned away from her and stalked toward Caleb’s heaving body. “At the core,” he said again, “he’s wolf.”
But the wolf wasn’t fighting then, and the demon was dying.
“Time to let the wolf out to play,” Lucas announced with a nod. “Get it, Jordan.”
Jordan. She’d forgotten he was even there, but when she looked back, Jordan stood in the doorway, a silent shadow. “What do you want him to get?” she asked.
But Jordan was already leaving.
“Shit,” Dane whispered. “You’re not giving him the Balkans?”
“He won’t be in control!” Dane argued. “He’ll just be wolf, he won’t—”
“He’ll be wolf,” Lucas said, “and the wolf can heal.” Balkans. Yes, okay, she knew the geographical area, but what did that have to do with saving the man’s life?
“Will he even be able to ingest it?” Piers asked.
“He’ll take it,” Lucas promised. “Even if I have to shove it down his throat.” His blazing eyes turned back to Sarah. “Take her out, Dane.”
Her knees locked. “I thought you—”
“You can’t control him, Sarah. You said so yourself.” Lucas’s mouth tightened. “When the shift comes, the beast is going to take over.”
“And humans, charmers—they all smell like prey to us,” Dane told her quietly.
Prey. Was that really what she was to them? To Lucas? Jordan came back, shoving open the door. He had a small vial in his hand. Some kind of clear liquid.
“There’s a white flower in the Balkans,” Dane told her as he guided her back toward the door. “About five hundred years ago, folks believed if you ate that flower, you’d become a werewolf.”
Piers and Michael hauled Caleb up. Lucas caught his chin and pried open Caleb’s bloody mouth. Then the alpha shoved the open vial past the snarling man’s lips.
“They were half-right.” Dane’s breath blew against her ear. “The flower forced an instant shift in those who carried an animal inside. No stopping it, just fast, full on—”
Lucas threw the vial to the floor. It shattered. “Get her out!”
Caleb’s wasn’t jerking anymore. He’d gone still. Dead?
Then his bones began to snap. A howl tore from his throat.
“Get her out!” Lucas yelled again.
You all smell like prey.
Dane pulled her outside just as another howl shook the small guardhouse.
“No matter what happens,” Lucas snarled, his voice roughening as the beast fought for control of his body. “Caleb doesn’t leave this room. He doesn’t get near Sarah.”
Piers still stood as a man, by Lucas’s order. Lucas knew how delicate that shifter’s control was. Now wasn’t the time to test him.
“He won’t get by me,” Piers vowed.
“Or me.” From Jordan.
Good to know, but Lucas didn’t plan on letting Caleb get past him.
Already, the man’s body was gone. The white wolf crouched on the bed, his eyes wild, his fangs bared. Ready to rip and attack at any moment.
Lucas let the change sweep over him. It was such a beautiful pain, savage and brutal, but the power of the beast was a heady addiction. One that had long ago worked under his skin.
He expected an attack from Caleb. It would have been smart for the other wolf to attack while he shifted. But Caleb just stood, body trembling, and watched. Waited.
The fire of the shift began to cool. Lucas stretched in his new body, feeling the pull of muscles, the tensile strength.
He stalked toward the bed—and toward the waiting wolf.
You in there? He sent the question out, searching.
A breeze teased his nose. The scent of grass, of ocean, of . . .
The white wolf’s nostrils flared and he launched off the bed, heading right for Lucas. Lucas twisted, but didn’t let his claws touch Caleb. Not yet.
Caleb had been loyal once. Lucas had called him friend. But if he had to, Lucas would kill him. He’d killed other friends before.
But Caleb . . .
Get control, wolf. He snapped out the command in his mind. There was no mental link that he could find with Caleb. He just touched rage, fear, pain.
Get control, he fired again but the white wolf attacked him. This time, Lucas had to use his teeth. He caught the beast around the neck, held tight, then tossed Caleb across the room.
Not a good fucking way to heal.
The white wolf’s ears flattened.
“Lucas, I sure as shit hope you know what you’re doing,” Piers muttered.
Yeah, he did, too.
The white wolf attacked once more, a hard, driving attack. Lucas met him head on, jaw snapping. He didn’t want to kill the other wolf. He needed Caleb to heal. He needed to find out what the hell was happening, but—
They rolled, twisted, and Caleb’s claws dug into Lucas’s side. He growled at the fiery burst of pain. Get control, Caleb. The shift should have pushed some of the poison out of his system, and if the man could just get control of the beast—
Caleb broke away from him and sprang for the door.
“ ’Fraid not.” Jordan stood before the door, arms crossed.
“You’re not getting by me.”
Lucas jumped onto the white wolf’s back and as the snarls and growls burst from them both, the wolves crashed onto the floor.
Dane’s shoulders were tense, his attention focused on the guardhouse. Sarah stood behind him, the sounds of battle seeming to echo in her mind. Her body ached because her muscles were locked so tight.
She swallowed and forced herself to speak. “How’d you all find out about the Balkans?” She’d never heard of the plant, and if it could do what they said . . .
Dane didn’t glance back at her. “We have our sources, too, Sarah.” He exhaled. “We would have tried it on Lucas last night, but he had too much silver in him for it to work. The Balkans can’t fight silver.”
Her hands fisted.
“You should trust him,” Dane said, his voice barely more than a whisper.
Sarah’s breath stuck in her throat. “Lucas?” Her brittle laugh blended with the snarls in the air. “He wants to put me up for a pack trial! You both do!”
He still didn’t look at her. “You sacrificed for me.”
She edged back a step.
“And you could have let Lucas die at Marie’s. I know how she works. You didn’t have to agree to her trade. You could have just let him die.”
“That’s not who I am.”
Glass shattered. Her gaze flew back to the small, two-room building. Through the broken window, she caught sight of the white wolf, jaws snapping as his eyes blazed at her.
Her left foot lifted.
“Don’t back away,” Dane snapped. “You know wolves like to chase their prey.”
She held herself perfectly still.
The wolf vanished.
Silence. Sarah didn’t make the mistake of thinking the battle was over. Silence had lied to her too many times before.
So they waited, not moving, as the minutes ticked by. Her heart pounded, her muscles ached, and she waited.
When the door finally opened, and Lucas stood in the entranceway, a pair of faded jeans hanging low on his hips, her breath heaved out.
But she knew the real battle, for her, wasn’t over yet.
He came toward her, that bright blue stare on her. Piers and Jordan were at his back.
“Caleb?” Dane called out.
Lucas’s head moved in a jerky nod. “He’ll make it. He’s out now, but when he comes back to us . . .” A smile, cruel, deadly, lifted his lips. “He’ll tell us all we need to know.”
She knew the words were a promise.
She also knew the pack was now coming for her. Closing in. Trial by pack.
There wasn’t any place to run. Like she could run. Dane had been right. The wolves enjoyed the chase far too much.
No, there was nowhere to run. Surrounded. The wolves had her trapped.
Dane slipped away, no longer protecting her. He’d left her open to attack. Fine. Not like she’d really expected anything else.
She faced Lucas with her shoulders back and her chin up. “I know how this works.”
One black brow rose. “Do you?”
When it came to pack, there might be a few surprises still out there—like the Balkans—but some things, a girl knew. “Trial by pack. Two fight. The alpha and the accused.”
The one accused of betrayal. Because only a betrayal could open a pack trial. The alpha was the judge. Death could be the verdict or . . .
He could spare his prey.
“You can’t shift.” Lucas’s voice held an edge of anger.
“Not like that’s my fault!” Her head cocked to the right and she gave a shrug. “I guess you’ll just have to take me as I am.”
“I intend to,” he murmured.
Her eyes narrowed.
“If I shift, you’ll just control me,” he told her.
Damn straight she would. Not like she’d let any wolf come for her throat. “Then what do we do?” she demanded. “You don’t trust me, you want my blood—”
He moved then, in a flash, catching her arms and hauling her up against him. “Your blood’s not what I want,” he growled.
Her hands caught his shoulders. Curled over the hot, hard skin. “Lucas?” She saw the fury in his eyes, but . . . more. Need. Hunger. For me.
“You lied to the pack.” His voice rang out. Loud and strong. “Controlled us. Risked us.”
“I helped you!” She yelled right back. “Doesn’t that matter? I went to trade myself for Dane. I fought for you! I didn’t—”
“We’re not fucking puppets,” Piers snapped.
Her gaze collided with his.
“No,” Lucas said softly. “We’re not.”
“You don’t control us,” Piers said. “You don’t come into our minds, see the hell we carry—”
Because she had seen the darkness there.
“—and control us!”
Dane’s shoulders rolled, a fast ripple of movement. Sarah’s gaze darted to the left. Jordan watched her with narrowed eyes.
Oh hell. This wasn’t going to end well. Not at all.
“The fight will be in human form,” Lucas said, his fingers easing their tight hold on her.
Sarah’s heart slammed into her chest. She’d never have a chance if they stayed human. Guess he’d learned from Rafe. Staying human had been Rafe’s technique, too. No, he’d like to change a little, to let his claws out.
The better to attack.
Her scars seemed to burn.
Lucas turned his back on her. She felt the move like a slap right in the face.
“The fight’s in human form.” His voice was flat. “For pack justice.” His hands were at his sides now, loose. But those claws were coming out.
She backed up a step.
The hiss of her name had Sarah’s head shooting up. Dane stared at her, giving a small negative shake of his head. She froze.
“Wolves want justice. A challenge has been issued.” Lucas lifted his hands, those claws gleaming now. “So if you want your justice, come and fucking get some.”
His hand flew out, caught hers. Held tight. His stare stayed on the others. “Because no one is gonna touch her, you understand? You want justice, then challenge me. I brought her in, and I’m keeping her in.” His voice deepened with every word, became more guttural. Hardly man, more animal. “She’s pack. And she’s mine.”
Sarah couldn’t move right then. Hell, she could barely breathe. Because what Lucas was doing, for an alpha to declare an outsider to be pack, for him to say—