She stepped away from him. He’d believe her or he wouldn’t. This wasn’t about protection or the FBI or Rafe or any damn other thing. It was just about them. “And I need you to just want me, too.” Not the charmer. Not the woman he could use to spy on enemies or to make sure that his pack was always loyal. “Just want me.”
“I do.” Growled.
Her breath rushed out.
He reached for the door and yanked it open just as a fist slammed into the wood again.
Dane blinked. Faint light spilled on him from the bulb outside. Jordan stood just behind him, his shoulders hunched against the night.
“You were right,” Dane told Jordan, slowly lowering his fist. “She needed clothes.”
He tossed a bag to Sarah. She caught it, and her sheet didn’t slip.
“I know my brother.” Jordan’s lips curved a bit. “And I saw the way he looked at her.”
What? Did they think Lucas had ripped her clothes off? Oh, tempting, but no. “There was blood on my clothes, I—”
“I know.” And Dane came through the door with narrowed eyes and a tight jaw. “I could smell it outside.” He crossed to Sarah’s side. “Her blood.”
Jordan kicked the door closed and flipped on the light. “Here we go.”
A muscle flexed in Dane’s jaw. “Is Karen dead?”
“I don’t know.” And why did it matter to him? He’d been the one to gag the agent and stuff her into the back of a van.
Suspicion hit, hard, and she knew Lucas had the same thought because he grabbed Dane and tossed him back against the wall.
“How well do you know the FBI agent, Dane?” Lucas’s arm was at the other shifter’s throat.
Dane blinked. “FBI? I thought—I thought she was working with the coyotes . . .”
“She was,” Sarah said, seeing the immediate relaxation of Lucas’s shoulders.
Dane had my back.
“But she was playing them,” Lucas told him, dropping his arm and stepping back. “She was undercover.”
Dane’s gaze tracked to Sarah. “She’s like you?”
“No one’s like Sarah.” Lucas shoved a hand through his hair. “No one.”
That was sweet of her wolf to notice.
“What happened to her?” Dane stepped away from the wall, his hands clenched. “Lucas, tell me you didn’t hurt her.”
Lucas frowned. “I didn’t hurt her.”
Sarah tightened her grip on the bag. “He may have saved her.”
Dane’s head whipped toward her.
“It was the demon, Marley.” Sarah wet her lips. Ah, how to be delicate?
“Turns out she was an FBI plant, too.” Lucas didn’t bother with delicate. “They’ve been watching the paranormals. Keeping tabs on us.”
“Figures,” Jordan said, slumping against the wall but his sharp gaze belied the relaxed pose. “Big brother does like to watch.”
“And exterminate.” Dane’s eyes were still on Sarah.
“Only this time, the FBI agents are the ones being taken out.” She should have been told about the connection between the victims sooner. Without that Intel, she’d been working the case blind. But if Miller thought she was the one who’d turned, dammit, yes, the bastard would have been trying to keep her out of the loop. She sighed. “According to Karen, Rafe’s been targeting undercover agents—killing them.”
“Huh.” Dane’s stare tracked to Lucas. “You’re not FBI. Why’s he so hot for you?”
“I pissed off the asshole because I killed his bastard of a father.”
“Kaber.” A low whistle. “That piece of shit was Rafe’s father?”
“Yes.” Sarah saw his sharpening canines.
Dane growled. “Rafe should probably thank you for taking him out.”
She could feel the rage in the room. Dark shadows had filled Dane’s eyes. Sarah’s toes curled into the thin carpet. “Did you—did you find Marley?”
It was Jordan who answered. “We found the burned remains of some poor human in the woods.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “Marley didn’t leave a lot for us to identify.”
“Was it a man?” Curtis.
Jordan nodded. “No weapon.”
Because she’d taken his gun. Sarah sucked in a deep breath. “It could have been the agent with Karen.” Could have—who was she fooling? The odds were sky high that Marley had killed the man, and Sarah had been so intent on getting Karen to safety, she hadn’t even thought about him.
“Don’t.” Lucas’s voice snapped like a whip.
Sarah swallowed and glanced at him.
“He left us. He ran into the woods. He knew the coyotes were there, he took us to that trap and left us.” The faint lines around his eyes deepened. “His blood’s not on you.”
“No, it’s on Marley.” Dane shoved his hands into his pockets. “And that’s one of the reasons it was so easy for us to track the bitch.”
Sarah tensed at Lucas’s stark voice. So much fury.
“208 Mythlin Street.” Dane lifted a brow. “Sound familiar?”
“When we were looking for you—when those vamps took you—” He shoved a finger toward Jordan. “That was where we found Marie. That’s one of her safe houses.”
“No,” Jordan said, “it was one of Marie’s houses, but now Rafe and Marley are holed up inside, and I think it’s past time we went in and hauled their asses out.”
Okay, she needed to get out of the sheet. Sarah whirled around. “I’ll change and get my gun.” The adrenaline already had her blood pumping faster. The nightmare was ending. If they could take out Rafe . . .
She shut the bathroom door and yanked on the clothes as fast as she could. Hiding out at Marie’s—Rafe probably thought that was brilliant.
Sarah grabbed the knob and pulled the door open. “Okay, I’m—”
Lucas was gone. Dane was gone. Jordan still slumped against the wall. One dark brow climbed when he saw her and he shook his head slowly. “Ah, Sarah, did you really think he’d risk you?”
Her heart lurched. “He left me?” But she’d only been in the bathroom for a few moments and she hadn’t even heard the creak of the door.
“Like I said . . . I’ve seen the way he looks at you.” Jordan shrugged. “He’s not going to put your life on the line.”
Damn him. “He needs help.”
She caught the slight tightening of Jordan’s lips. “He has Dane. And Dane’s already arranged for Piers to meet ’em there. Those guys are his backup. Always have been.”
“And what about you? What are you, Jordan?”
“Now that’s a good question.” He smiled, but it was grim.
“You’re as strong as they are. I’m not—yes, I get that.” Lucas needed more back up. No telling how many of his wolf pack Rafe had brought in. And then there was Marley. “He can’t do this with just Dane and Piers backing him.” She grabbed the gun from the nightstand.
“He and Dane have experience taking down rogue wolves. I know, I saw the blood firsthand.”
“But Kaber didn’t know Lucas was coming back for him and that jerk also didn’t have a fire-throwing demon on his side.” Not good odds. “Rafe will have that house protected. He’s going to do anything and everything he can—he wants Lucas dead.”
Jordan caught her shoulders when she tried to go for the door. “You may as well be just human. If you go, you’ll just slow him down.”
Did everyone have to throw up the human comment to her? “Humans aren’t as weak as you think.” They all made that mistake. “If Rafe’s men shift . . .” Now she smiled and she knew the grin was as grim as his had been. “They’re mine.”
His golden gaze searched hers. “And if they don’t shift? If they attack with claws but still with the bodies of men? What the hell then? You’ll distract my brother. If anything happens to you . . .” His claws were out. “I’m not going to watch him go over the edge.”
“Neither am I.” She raised the gun. “It’s loaded with silver bullets, and I took backup ammo from the van. If Rafe’s men don’t shift, then I can still take them out.” Wasting time. “I’m a good shot, better than good, I—”
“Yeah, I know you are, lady.”
“Then why are we just standing here?” Now she was the one nearly growling. He’d left me. “Lucas needs us.”
The struggle was clear on his face. “He told me to keep you safe.”
Fine. “Then stay by my side. Stay with me every step of the way, but come on!” Her gut was twisting, her knees shaking, and she knew that this battle wasn’t going to end easily. Rafe wasn’t this sloppy. He wouldn’t have let the other wolves track him—or even track his demon—unless he’d wanted to be found.
Because he had a backup plan already in place. Yes, she knew him well. Better than Lucas did. And if Lucas had just stayed and given her the chance to explain . . .
“You don’t leave my sight,” Jordan snapped. “You stay within a foot of me at all times.”
Sarah jerked her head in agreement and ripped open the door. “Just don’t get between my gun and a target.” Weak. Not hardly. It was time to show the wolves how strong their prey could really be.
“Yes, ma’am,” Jordan agreed, “but you can’t get between my claws and the assholes I’m planning to rip apart.”
Hold on, Lucas. Because from now on, he wouldn’t be leaving her behind. In the wolf pack, mates hunted together.
Time for the man to realize he was mated.
The house at 208 Mythlin hadn’t changed much. The sprawling two-story brick house still hid behind the twisting trees at the end of the long, pothole-filled road. The wraparound porch showed no signs of neglect. Unlike the other dumps on the street, this house was perfect . . . because it was hers.
The first time he’d been there, he’d been tracking Maya Black. He’d been so desperate to find his brother, he hadn’t cared that he’d courted the mambo’s wrath by bringing blood and death right to her door. No, he hadn’t cared, not until later.
Then he’d had to bleed for the mambo. Blood for blood. But he’d set his debt to rights.
“It sure is quiet,” came Piers’s whisper. “I’ve been watching the place for the last twenty minutes . . . not a peep.”
And he couldn’t smell a thing. Literally, not a damn thing. No wolf scent. No telltale ash. Not even sweat. “I thought you followed Marley’s scent here.”
Dane’s eyes were on the house. “I did, but it’s—hell, it’s different now.”
“Magic?” Piers barely breathed the word.
At Marie’s? Hell, yeah, magic was a definite possibility. “Time to shift.” Because he wasn’t gonna waste those precious moments later. Better to shift now, go in strong and take the bastards out. He knew Rafe likely had his coyote dogs and some wolves around. Lucas was ready for the blood and battle. This war was ending tonight.
“We should be able to smell ’em,” Piers growled and his bones began to snap. “Should still be able to . . .” Fur covered his flesh.
He was right. Lucas stared at the windows of Marie’s house. He could see light flickering. Bright light.
No, not just light. Fire.
But he couldn’t smell the smoke. What the fuck? “Be ready for anything,” he ordered, and the burn of the shift swept through him. His bones broke, stretched, his hands vanished and his claws dug into the dirt.
Rafael, I’m coming for you, asshole.
Then he heard it. The faintest sound of laughter drifting in the air.
“About time you showed up, Simone!” Rafe shouted from the recesses of the house. “I was getting bored waiting on you . . . so I had to go ahead and start my party.”
Then a woman screamed, loud, long, full of pain and fear. Marley? It figured that Rafe would turn on her. He seemed to turn on everyone.
“And before you go guessing . . .” Came that damn, mocking voice. “Marley’s not the one screaming.” The laughter filled the night again. “Come and see what I’ve got in here!”
Not what. Who.
Lucas glanced to the left, then the right. Dane and Piers had shifted, and their eyes were on him. He threw back his head and howled. Forget going in softly. Rafe knew he was there. So Lucas would go in fast—
His legs pumped as he flew over the earth.
—and he’d go in hard—
He dove right through the window, barely feeling the glass slice into his pelt.
—and he’d take that bastard out.
Jordan’s motorcycle braked and Sarah jumped off the bike—just in time to see a big, black wolf hurtle through a pane of glass.
A slightly smaller black wolf and a white wolf dove after him.
“Smoke.” Jordan climbed off after her. “That demon’s burning again!”
Sarah’s gun was already out and in her hands. She and Jordan ran together, rushing for the house.
They’d taken about ten steps when the first two coyotes appeared. The coyotes stalked from the bushes, their heads low to the ground, their ears up, and damn if it didn’t look like they were smiling.