Sarah stared at the gun and didn’t blink.
“Get that fucking weapon off her!” Lucas snarled.
But Maya shook her head. “Like I said before, your scent’s all over her.” Her gaze tracked to the alpha. “That means you give a shit what happens to her, right?”
“You don’t want me as your enemy, Maya,” he told her quietly. “You truly don’t.”
The blond’s fingers touched Maya’s shoulder. “You were supposed to go easy,” he murmured.
“And Marie was supposed to be damn well alive! She wasn’t supposed to get slashed up by some mangy wolf!”
At that, Lucas flew forward and shoved Sarah to the side. Dane instantly covered her, using his body to shield her.
Sarah twisted, glanced back, and saw that Lucas stood right in front of Maya. The gun pressed into his chest.
“You think I killed her?” His arms were up, his claws out. “Then shoot. But then you . . . and the winged asshole . . . had better get the hell out of LA because my pack will be out for your blood.”
She didn’t squeeze the trigger. “Why was your scent on Marie?”
“Because she saved my life last night.” A pause, then . . . “And that’s probably why she’s dead today.”
That gun shoved harder against his chest. “Wolf . . .” “There’s another alpha in town. One who’s gunning for me.”
“I think he’s telling the truth,” the vamp’s guy said, head cocked.
“He is.” Jordan stepped forward. Maya’s attention swung to him. Sarah saw the vamp’s eyes narrow. “Lucas isn’t lying to you. A bastard named Rafael Santiago is here, hunting him.”
“Hunting us,” Piers added.
Jordan took another slow, gliding step toward the vampire. “Believe me if you believe no one else, Maya. It’s not us you’re after. It’s him.”
But the gun wasn’t dropping. “I’d like to believe you,” Maya said and almost sounded like she did. “But no one would have crept up on Marie. She saw everything.” Was that an echo of pain in her voice? “She wouldn’t have let a wolf she didn’t know get to her, she wouldn’t—”
“Then she knew him,” Sarah yelled out the obvious, still covered by Dane. “She knew Rafe, and if she’s as strong as I think, she knew he’d be the one to kill her.”
Maya’s hold on the gun finally eased, and in that second, Lucas’s hand flew up and snatched the weapon away. Maya didn’t spare him a glance. Her focus was fully on Sarah. “Who are you?”
Lucas moved again, a gliding step, and blocked Maya’s view of Sarah. “Consider your entrance pass to my place revoked.”
The blond man’s shoulders tensed. “I think she’s Other.”
“She smells human,” the vamp muttered.
Dane lifted Sarah back to her feet, but he stayed close.
“Not a witch,” the man said. “Not a shifter . . .”
“Brody, you don’t need to know a damn thing about her!” Lucas glared at the vamp’s companion.
The guy, Brody, kept talking. “Demon? I can never smell them and if she’s using glamour . . .”
“Get off my land,” Lucas ordered, voice flat. “And don’t come back.” Then he turned away and strode to Sarah’s side.
“You owe me, wolf.” Brody’s hands were on his hips when he threw this out.
Sarah caught the narrowing of Lucas’s eyes. Saw his lips move when he growled out, “Shifter bastard.”
“If you didn’t kill Marie,” this came from Maya, “if there’s really another wolf in town . . .”
He glanced back over his shoulder. “There is.”
Maya edged forward. “Then I want him.”
“Get in line. I’m taking that bastard out.”
“If he killed her, then I’m—”
“I think he’s killed some of her followers.” Dane was the one who dropped this bombshell. “He knew the mambo, and he’s killed at least two of her people.”
Sarah’s eyes widened. Why hadn’t Dane said something sooner?
“We saw ’em last night.” Now it was Piers who spoke up.
“A woman from the South, and a Haitian male. Their throats had been ripped open.” His lips tightened. “I know a wolf’s work when I see it.”
The Haitian? But . . . he’d been with her, he’d talked to her. “When?” Sarah asked. “Did he kill them while we were inside—”
Dane shook his head. “No, they were dead long before that.” His dark eyes met hers. “Long before that.”
Two ways. The memory of the mambo’s voice drifted through her mind. Stop him before Death comes.
Or bring him back after.
“She had ’em under some kind of spell,” Dane said. “She let ’em go right before we found the two of you on that table.”
Sarah didn’t remember that part of the night. She didn’t remember anything after the slash of the knife and Marie’s dark promise.
He dies . . .
Then you die.
With those words, everything had gone straight to black. Sarah glanced at her arm. The wound was gone now. She didn’t have any enhanced healing powers, but the wound had vanished far too quickly.
“Marie said she didn’t ‘raise them’ but that she was letting them go free.” The words had Sarah’s eyes lifting back to Dane. His jaw locked. “One minute, they were walking around, talking, the next—we were staring at corpses that had been dead for days.”
“Fucking zombies,” Piers growled. “Hell, of all the Other . . . the dead belong in the ground.”
Brody’s hands fisted. “Watch it.”
Ah, right. Technically, Maya was dead. Well, undead. She would have died briefly before she was reborn as a vamp.
“Marie never raised the dead. She didn’t like to touch that power,” Maya spoke softly, as if mostly to herself. “She said you never knew what you’d bring back if you tried to raise the bodies of humans.”
Lucas didn’t seem fazed to hear that zombies had been around them the night before.
Piers ran a quick hand over his face. “There’s another who can raise them.”
Maya’s chin jerked up a notch. “No.”
“She can do it. You know she can.”
“Just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean you will. Josette doesn’t use the power, she doesn’t—”
Piers started laughing then, but there was no humor in that hard, mocking sound. “Maya, you been playing house with your shifter too long, staying gone out of LA . . . you’re missing some news, baby.” He put his hands on his hips. “Guess life in . . . where is it—Maine?—has made you soft.”
The woman just looked angrier. “Nothing makes me soft. Don’t make that mistake.”
A faint grin still rode his lips. “Little Josie . . . she’s been playing with power. Not keeping those hands of hers clean anymore.”
Brody swore and Maya gave a hard shake of her head. “You’re wrong.”
Maya spun away, her hand automatically reaching for Brody’s. “We have to go.”
Now she was running away?
No, not away. Running to something.
Probably to wherever this Josette/Josie was.
“The wolf is mine!” Lucas shouted after them. “Do you hear me, Maya? That kill is mine!”
It was Brody who stopped and looked back. “I let you have the last kill.” Suddenly, his teeth looked longer, the skin on his arms darker. “This one’s for Maya.”
“Not if I get to him first!”
But Brody had spun away. He and the vamp disappeared, no, not disappeared, they just moved fast.
“Shit.” Lucas’s eyes fixed on Sarah. “You okay?”
She nodded. Other than an aching knee from where she’d plowed into the ground, yes, she was fine.
She also still had Marie’s ring. Sarah’s fingers unfurled. The red of the ruby seemed so dark.
“Josette.” Lucas repeated the name, as if tasting it. “She’s Marie’s granddaughter. How the hell do you know anything about her and her power, Piers?”
“Cause the lady is sexy as sin, and she’s also taken to hanging out in the darker part of town.” Piers flashed a wolf’s grin. Too many teeth. Too sharp. Too much challenge. “How wouldn’t I know her?”
But Lucas stared at him and didn’t seem to buy that grin.
“You’re the one who knew where Marie was last night,” Dane spoke slowly, as if thinking his way through something.
Piers slanted him a measuring glance. “Because Lucas wants us to keep tabs on her. I do what the alpha wants.”
“You’re not looking into the Dark, are you, Piers?” The question was Lucas’s.
The Dark—dark magic.
But Piers just lifted one shoulder. “The Dark’s been looking at me for years. We all know it.” His grin faded. “There’s only so much time until it takes over.”
Because he thought he’d be one of the wolf shifters who crossed the line and became psychotic. She’d touched his mind, she knew the potential was there. But, then again, it was always there.
With man and beast.
“You been looking for a magic cure?” Lucas pressed.
There was no cure. Not unless . . .
“I’ve just been looking at a pretty lady. Where’s the crime in that?”
But Sarah was sure he was lying then, and she knew the others realized it, too.
Piers’s spine straightened. “Do you want me to take you to Josie or do you want to let the vamp get to her first?”
“Josette isn’t my prey. Her fight isn’t mine.”
The ring seemed heavier in Sarah’s hands. “I promised a trade to Marie.”
Was this the debt she’d pay? Marie had saved Lucas, now...
“Someone gave Caleb the Angel Dust.” Piers huffed out a hard breath. “And Josie . . . hell, if anyone knows how to make it in this town, it would be her.”
Sarah saw Lucas’s claws burst from his skin. “Why the hell didn’t you say so sooner?”
“Cause I didn’t want her marked for death.” Lines bracketed his mouth. “Cause I’m a selfish bastard, and, hell, yeah, I was hoping to use her.” Pain hollowed his eyes. “Every time I shift, I want the blood, I want it so bad . . .”
Lucas grabbed his shirt front and hauled Piers closer. “Then, from here on out, you don’t shift without me by your side, got it? Because I’m not losing another packmate.”
Piers’s gaze fell.
“Where is she?” Lucas barked. “Shit, if Maya and her man get to her first, they’ll take her away and we won’t find out a damn thing about the Dust.”
“They won’t get there first.” Piers swallowed. “Maya doesn’t know how far the angel fell, not yet.”
Lucas’s stare bored into him. “But you do?”
“Let’s just say I know what it’s like to fall, and I know where the Fallen go.”
Yes, Sarah bet he did.
At a little past noon, the bar on Brinks Street should have been empty. And if it had been a regular joint, the place probably would have been closed up tight.
But it wasn’t your typical hole-in-the-wall bar. Not by a long shot.
Lucas eyed the entrance, noting the two men who slouched just outside the doors. He’d bet those guys were a lot more aware than they pretended to be.
“You sure she’s here?” he asked.
From what he remembered about Josette, the lady was pure class. She owned an art gallery, a real fancy place that he’d never even gotten within a mile of—except for the few times he’d been tracking her.
Josette had cut off contact with Marie a while back. It had looked like the woman had gone no-magic and hadn’t looked back.
So he’d stopped watching her.
And hadn’t seen her fall.
“She’s there.” Piers was certain. “She comes here for the blood.”
“Uh, the blood?” Sarah repeated, and there wasn’t really any fear in her voice. No, it sounded more like morbid curiosity.
“There’s a lot you can do with the blood of Others,” Piers said. “If you have the right magic.”
Lucas grunted. Piers was the only shifter he’d brought with him. He hadn’t wanted to attract too much attention.
But with Rafe out there, he also hadn’t wanted to risk being separated from Sarah—so he’d made certain she stayed at his side.
I’ll keep her safe. From now on, where he went, so did she. He’d claimed her, right in front of the pack. Been ready to fight for her. Hell, had the woman really thought he’d let any of his wolves hurt her? No matter how pissed . . . hell, no, he’d never let anyone so much as scratch her.
He’d wanted his intent to be clear. So he’d challenged the others, and claimed her.
And she hadn’t refused the claim. Hadn’t told him to shut the hell up. She’d . . . accepted him.
“So what’s the plan here?” Sarah wanted to know. “We go in, you guys with claws up and blazing . . .”
Blazing? Lucas shook his head. “Let’s try charm first.” She smiled at him then. A real smile. One that lit her face and had his cock rising.