But Lucas would have been an idiot not to realize what Karen had been saying. “You make ’em trust you,” he finished. “Then you take the bastards down?” His eyes were on Sarah.
“That’s usually the plan,” she managed, the gun feeling way too heavy in her hands.
“The bullets are silver,” Karen told her. “You didn’t check. Bad move there, S. You’re losing your touch.”
The demon’s eyes were bulging, but he wasn’t saying a word. Sarah lifted the gun a bit. “I felt the weight difference.” Slight, but noticeable. The FBI was so predictable. “I knew what I had.”
Lucas’s stare dropped to the gun, then slowly rose back up to her face. Oh, hell, no, he’d better not be doubting her. Hadn’t they already cleared this up?
“The gun will come in handy,” Karen told her. “Because I’m guessing you don’t have that knife of yours anymore.”
Not anymore. Thanks to Rafe.
“It’s about to come in real handy,” Sarah said, and adjusted her aim, just enough so that the barrel of the gun pointed at the demon. “Where is he.” Not a question.
Damn, but that demon was sweating. And, as she watched, his glamour faded away. His hair darkened, lengthened, his chin firmed up, his eyes flashed from weary gray to dark black.
“Did you ever have the chance to meet Agent Greg Dulane?” Karen pursed her lips. “He’s pretty good at undercover work, too. Even better than you.”
She could see where he would be.
Karen and Greg gazed up at her. “Help us,” Karen said quietly. “And we’ll help you.”
She’d been offered this deal before. Pretty much verbatim from her FBI supervisor.
Lucas’s claws gouged into the side of the van. Damn.
“Cut through this shit and tell me where the hell Rafe is,” Lucas snarled. “Or in a few minutes, you’ll both be needing more help than anyone can give you.”
The demon flinched.
“Rafe isn’t working this alone. You know that.” Karen’s face had paled, but she was still fighting. Still Karen. “I spent so long working on getting in with the coyotes, but then Rafe came in—and he took out the whole damn group.”
“What a fucking shame.” Lucas looked bored.
Karen swallowed. “Rafe didn’t kill ’em. He sent more dogs in.” Her hands pressed against her jeans. “You know he has Hayden on a tight leash. When Rafe says bite, Hayden rips the throat out of anyone near him.”
Like John’s throat had been ripped out.
“We’ve been working on the coyotes for so long, but now John’s dead.” Karen’s hands fisted. “My five months are shot down the drain and Hayden knows who I am. Who I really am. He’s got me marked.”
Sarah knew how that felt.
“The coyotes have been killing with Rafe. They used to stay to the shadows but now—they think it’s a whole new game.”
“Isn’t it?” Lucas growled. “Isn’t that what it’s fucking become? The Bureau tries to shove the paranormals back, tries to scare us with the threat of extermination.” He laughed at that. “But we’re not the ones who’ll be exterminated.”
Karen blanched. “That’s wh-what Rafe said, too. You all think that—”
“Right.” Disgust had Lucas’s mouth tightening. “In the dark, all paranormals are the fucking same, aren’t we? We’re all big, bad monsters who’ll kill humans in a blink.”
Some would. But not all. Didn’t Karen realize yet? The supernaturals were just like humans. Some good, some very bad.
Karen’s chin dropped. “Rafe and the coyotes have a list of undercover agents.”
Now Karen had finally surprised Sarah. A fist squeezed her heart. “How the hell did they get that?”
“Because they had someone in the FBI who gave it to them. Someone who hacked the system, got the names, and just handed them right over.”
“Those men who were murdered in Arizona weren’t random. John wasn’t random. Everyone they’ve killed . . . they’re taking out our watchers. Our agents.”
No, that wasn’t possible. They couldn’t—
“Rafe thought he could turn you to his side. If he couldn’t turn you, he’d kill you.” Flat. “John wasn’t given the option of turning. The coyotes didn’t want a traitor with them.”
An image of John’s dead body flashed before her eyes.
“Everyone they’ve killed,” Karen said again. “They’re working on their own extermination list. Not just humans—they’re also taking out charmers and demons, but all their victims are undercover agents.”
No. “You’re wrong.” And she remembered Josette’s grief. “There were three others. Here, in LA. They weren’t—”
“Maxime and Helene?” A bitter smile tugged at Karen’s lips. “They were keeping tabs on the mambo. Letting us know who came to visit, and what price they had to pay. The mambo saw the most powerful and the weakest supernaturals in the area. Did you really think no one was watching her?”
“But . . .” What had been his name? “Josette’s lover, he—” Sarah caught the fast glance the demon sent Karen. Oh, damn. “Did she know?”
“That he was a demon?” Karen shrugged. “Probably. Marie would have told her that.”
“Did she know he was FBI?” No, she hadn’t known. Because Josette thought she was responsible for his death. She didn’t know he’d been marked, just as they all had been.
“If she knew then she wouldn’t be working so hard right now to find and stop his killer, would she?” And Karen’s smile stretched, flashing way too many teeth.
Sarah’s gut clenched. This wasn’t right. “Do you know what she’s been doing? She raised him, K. The pain was so much that she raised him.”
Karen’s gaze dropped. “I didn’t . . . I never thought she’d do that.”
“Then you never fucking thought.”
Karen flinched at Lucas’s disgust.
“She’s the granddaughter of a voodoo priestess, and you really believed she wouldn’t turn to magic when her lover was killed?” Lucas heaved out a hard breath. “Lady, you were kidding yourself. You knew she’d break, and you and your boss didn’t care.”
At that, Karen tried to jump up, but he shoved her right back down.
“You don’t know me!” she threw at him. “Don’t say what—”
Sarah shoved the gun into the back of her jeans. “Who’s the leak?”
Her head nearly rapped into the top of the van. She had to crouch to stay upright.
Karen slanted her a fuming stare, but Sarah saw the tears glittering in the agent’s eyes.
“Who’s the leak?” Lucas shouted.
“We—we thought it was Sarah.”
Hell. Figured. “Then you never fucking thought,” she repeated Lucas’s words quietly, aware of the slight tremble in her fingers. She’d bled for the Bureau. Taken so many cases, nearly lost herself. And they really thought she’d sold the agents out? Sent them to their deaths?
“He was your lover, Sarah. You got in with him so fast. Some said too fast.” Karen glanced at the demon, then back at Sarah. “And you had access to the files on the undercover operatives.”
“Me and a dozen other agents.” Dammit.
“Then you quit the FBI.” Karen sighed. “You looked guilty.”
“What Rafe wants, he gets.” Karen’s voice roughened. “He wanted to turn the tables on the Bureau that was hunting his kind, so now he has the list of names.” Her eyes were on Lucas. “He wanted revenge on the man who killed his father, and now he’s got you in his sights.”
What? Was that supposed to make Lucas suspicious of her? What kind of game was Karen spinning?
Sarah glanced out the back window. No other cars. Just a line of trees. “Stop the damn van!” she yelled.
The van squealed to a halt.
The demon flew forward.
Lucas didn’t move. He just watched Sarah.
“What’s the trap, Karen?” Sarah demanded. “What’s the deal? We’re not heading to Lucas’s, this isn’t the right road.”
“No,” Lucas said immediately.
The driver shoved open his door and ran.
Sarah surged forward. Lucas caught her hand. “Let him go,” he said. “There’s nowhere for him to run here.”
But where was here?
“Coyote land,” Lucas said, as if reading her mind.
What the hell?
He laughed at the expression on Karen’s face. “Did you really think I didn’t hear the beep of the transmitter beneath the van? I knew where the asshole was taking us. Guess that was the plan, though, right? Lure me in, keep me trapped. Take me to a slaughter.” He shoved open the back doors, letting in the setting sun. Soon, darkness would be calling. “The thing is, agent, I wanted you to take me to the bastard. Why the hell do you think I followed your bread crumbs? Why do you think I ever got in the van?”
Karen didn’t speak.
Lucas pointed one claw at the demon. “By the way, Marley, did you really think I was dumb enough not to spot you on sight?”
Once more, the demon’s image began to waver.
“Shit!” Now Karen was the one sweating.
“You look different, Marley, but the scent is the same. With you, it always is. Glamour’s only skin-deep, right?”
The dark hair lengthened, sliding past the demon’s shoulders. The face softened, the hard edges slipping away. The cheekbones stretched higher. The lips plumped. In bare seconds, the man was gone.
And the demon who’d left Sarah to burn was back. “Demons didn’t send you to watch my ass,” Lucas said. He grabbed Sarah’s hand and they jumped from the van.
Marley sprang after them, with Karen right at her side. “Lucas!” Now the demon’s voice was feminine. So she’d changed that, too? “I wasn’t given a choice, I—”
“You wanted someone to keep tabs on my pack, right, Karen?” Lucas drawled. “And like Marley said, she knew my weak spot.”
Sarah had read the profile on him, too. Because of his past, Lucas had a protective streak. A soft spot for victims.
A lump rose in her throat. I used that weakness against him, too.
Did he realize?
His mocking smile said he did. Lucas.
His gaze drifted to the darkening woods. “We’re not alone out here, you know.”
Sarah already had the gun out and in her hands. This time, she had it aimed at the demon.
“Back away from her, Karen.”
But Karen moved closer to Marley. “She’s on our side. Dammit, if you’d both just calm down, I could explain! She really is an agent. Marley Dulane is—”
Sarah didn’t care to learn anything else about the demon. She already knew what mattered. “She told the coyotes about John. She watched him die.”
Karen’s lips parted. “But . . . no, that’s not—”
“Back away, Karen!” Because there was a traitor in the Bureau, all right, and Sarah was looking right at her.
Karen began to edge away from the demon.
Just not fast enough.
Two coyotes sprang from the bushes and launched at Lucas.
The demon bent down low, then rose in a flash, driving her fist right into Karen’s stomach.
The agent screamed and punched out, even as Sarah fired the bullet.
But it was too late.
Too damn late.
The demon had already jumped back and Karen fell to the ground, the handle of an all-too-familiar knife buried in her stomach.
My weapon. “Karen!”
Snarls and growls filled the air even as Karen’s blood pooled on the ground.
The demon laughed. “When they find the body, they’ll know you killed her.”
Sarah rushed to Karen. The agent was still alive, but blood trickled from her lips.
“But you’ll be dead, too . . .” Marley’s voice promised. Sarah whipped the gun up, ready to fire, but the fast bitch had already run into the woods. Sarah knew the demon was just biding her time. Watching, waiting to attack.
With what? More fire?
The two coyotes circled Lucas, and he slashed out at them with his claws. He hadn’t shifted, and she knew he couldn’t shift. Because in the time it took to shift, they could kill him.
The hell they would.
Smoke began to fill the air. Bitch.
Sarah narrowed her eyes as she took aim.
“Don’t hit your lover . . .” Marley sang out. “But, of course, you like to hurt your lovers, don’t you, Sarah?”
Karen choked, and her body heaved.
Sarah fired, catching one coyote in the shoulder. The bastard howled and turned his stare on her.
Hayden. Like she’d ever forget those eyes. That bright circle of yellow gleamed in the darkness of his stare.
He growled, then he leapt toward her.
Sarah squeezed the trigger once more. This time, the bullet blasted right between his eyes.
He didn’t even have time to whimper.
But the other coyote did. Lucas had driven his claws into the animal’s side and now the coyote was down, jerking and heaving and twisting.
“Lucas!” He had to move so she could get a clear shot. “I can’t get the—”
A line of fire burst from the woods. Flames that separated her from Lucas.