Bound in death, p.13
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       Bound In Death, p.13

         Part #5 of Bound series by Lauren DeStefano
 
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Page 13

 

  As the vampire’s teeth came for his throat, Alerac realized that Ryan hadn’t just come to the mountains in order to retrieve his sister.

  The vamp had come to kill him.

  Too bad for Ryan. He wasn’t in the mood to die.

  Chapter Six

  She followed the sound of snarls. Of growls. And the scent of blood.

  Her steps were soundless as she slipped through the woods. She expected some of Alerac’s pack to come at her, but they didn’t. Maybe it was her lucky night. She’d eluded them easily enough.

  Or maybe she’d just caught them unprepared because they hadn’t been expecting her to do a header out of the window. Whatever.

  Jane barely breathed as she approached the cabin on the ridge. A small cabin, its exterior dark. But…

  The growls were coming from that place.

  So was the scent of blood.

  She eased toward the narrow window. Faint light shone from behind that glass, and when she leaned closer, pushing up on her tip toes, Jane saw—

  Alerac. With his claws slicing toward the throat of a man with blond hair. A man with fangs. A man who turned his head at that exact moment.

  The man’s eyes—blue, bright—met hers.

  “Keira. ”

  She could have sworn that she heard his whisper in her mind.

  Alerac’s claws were flying toward the man’s throat.

  “No!” Jane screamed and pounded on the window.

  The glass shattered, flying inward.

  “Let him go!” She’d cut her hands on the glass. Blood dripped from her fingers.

  Alerac’s head turned toward her. His eyes widened.

  This scene—it was just like the scenes from her visions. Alerac, killing.

  A river of blood that never stopped.

  “Don’t,” she whispered. “Please. ”

  Then hard hands grabbed her. She kicked back, landing a hard blow to someone’s shin, but her captor didn’t free her. He spun her around to face him.

  She found herself staring at Liam’s furious face. “You shouldn’t be here!”

  Screw that. It was her life. She wasn’t going to be locked in any room while the werewolves decided her fate. She tried to break free. Liam didn’t let her go.

  Liam…

  He’d been in those visions. He’d taken the blood from the vampires, too. He’d fed, just like Alerac had.

  And Liam’s eyes were already dropping to her throat.

  No!

  She slammed her head into his and punched him in the gut as hard as she could. He stumbled back, and she raced into the cabin.

  Alerac stood frozen, with his claws less than an inch from the blond-haired man’s throat.

  “Don’t kill him!” Jane yelled.

  “Keira,” the man whispered. The word almost sounded like a prayer.

  The name still meant nothing to her.

  But that man…his eyes…he mattered to her. She knew it, deep inside.

  “Please,” she took a cautious step toward Alerac. “Let him go. ”

  The floor creaked behind her. Then Liam’s arms wrapped around her once more. “No more head butts,” he snapped into her right ear. “I think you broke my freakin’ nose. ”

  Alerac’s gaze jerked to Liam’s arms. Then to Jane’s face. “Take Jane back to the main house,” he ordered. “Now. ”

  The blond man broke free of Alerac’s hold. His fangs flashed—definitely a vampire—as he backed into the far corner. He frowned at her. “Who’s Jane?”

  I am.

  Liam tried to pull her toward the door. Jane dug in her heels and got ready to do more damage to the werewolf’s nose.

  “Let her go!” The sharp order came from the blond vampire. Then he was there, right in front of Jane. He’d moved so quickly. Vamp fast. And he wasn’t waiting for Liam to follow his order. The vampire grabbed Liam’s right arm. Broke it. Then he pulled Jane against his chest.

  “You’re alive. ” The vampire was trembling against her. His scent filled her nose. He smelled like the ocean. The scent reassured her.

  He reassured her.

  And she had no memory of him at all.

  But she found her hands wanting to rise. Wanting to hold tight to him.

  “She doesn’t remember,” Alerac said as the wood of the floor creaked beneath his approaching feet. “You know the spell that was put on her. She doesn’t remember a damn thing, Ryan. ”

  Ryan. She tilted her head back. Stared up at him.

  “I think she remembers me,” the one called Ryan murmured. “Don’t you, Keira?”

  There was blood on his mouth. She hadn’t noticed it before. Her gaze dropped to that blood, then she looked over at Alerac.

  His neck was bleeding.

  The vampire had taken his blood. She’d thought that Alerac was the one attacking, but had he just been defending himself?

  The vampires want you dead. Alerac had told her that before.

  He’d also saved her life.

  And in your visions, he killed vampires.

  “She doesn’t remember,” Alerac said again, voice rougher.

  Jane glanced back into Ryan’s eyes, so like the ones that she saw when she looked into a mirror. “I don’t remember you,” she told him, almost hating to say the words.

  Pain flashed over his handsome face. “But you remember him?” He threw a hard glare toward Alerac.

  “She remembers nothing. ” Alerac reached for her. His claws were out, but his hands were incredibly gentle as he pulled her away from Ryan. “Lorcan wanted her to be this way. The bastard thought he’d get to her first. ”

  Ryan’s eyes had hardened. “But you put him out of commission, didn’t you? I heard that you killed five of his closest allies—”

  “And I nearly took the bastard’s head,” Alerac finished. “I would’ve…if I hadn’t thought that I needed to keep him alive. ”

  Her own head was aching. The scent of blood—now she knew that it was Alerac’s blood—that scent was making her hungry.

  “I kept him alive because he was the only one left who knew where she was. He killed those who took her to be imprisoned long ago. I needed him. ” Disgust thickened Alerac’s words. “But now I don’t need him to live any longer. ”

  He spoke of death so casually.

  To him, it was casual.

  Her fangs ached.

  Ryan held out his hand. “It’s time for us to go. ”

  But Alerac pushed her behind his body. “She isn’t going any place with you. ”

  Uh, she was standing right there.

  “I let you live because of your blood bond to her, but I haven’t forgotten,” Alerac said as he squared off against Ryan, “not for an instant, about what you did. ”

  Her heart was pounding too fast.

  “You let them take her,” Alerac continued in a voice that sounded like thunder’s rumble. “You didn’t even try to stop them. Didn’t try to help her. ”

  She eased away from Alerac. Jane saw the fury on Ryan’s face as he leaned toward the werewolf alpha.

  “And she took your fucking punishment,” Ryan fired right back at Alerac. “When she never even knew that you were just using her all along. Seducing her, to get the revenge and power that you wanted. ”

  The fierce pounding in her chest seemed to slow then.

  Alerac grabbed the vamp around the throat. Lifted him into the air. “You’re done here. If I see you on my land again, you’re dead. ” His gaze shot back to a watchful—and still bleeding—Liam. “I told you before…get her out of here!”

  Liam took her arm. Jane jerked away from him. “I’m not going anywhere. ”

  She was sick. So damn sick of being in the dark. “I want my memories back. ”

  He’d said that he could get her a witch. If she was under a spell, a witch could break that sp
ell, right? “I want my memories, now. ”

  “Careful what you ask for. You might be better off without them,” Liam murmured.

  That was her decision. Not his. Not Alerac’s.

  Alerac tossed Ryan toward the door. No, through the door. The wood broke and shattered at the impact. “Come here again,” he said, “and brother or no brother, you’re dead. ”

  Ryan cast her one final look. He was just outside of the cabin and—and wolves were coming out from the darkness. They circled him.

  The wolves just seemed to be waiting. Their sharp teeth glinted in the light.

  “One word from me,” Alerac told Ryan, the words low and vicious, “and they’ll tear you apart. ”

  Ryan straightened to his full height. “This isn’t over, alpha. ”

  “Yes, it is. ”

  Ryan’s gaze darted toward Jane.

  Meet me at the stream. Two miles south. Before dawn. Before the sun rises.

  She bit her lip to hold back the gasp that wanted to break free. She’d just heard Ryan’s voice—in her head.

  Don’t trust the wolf. Or his pack. Traitors want your blood.

  Ryan’s lips never moved, but she heard every word clearly in her mind.

  But then Ryan turned around. He walked right through that circle of wolves. Headed out with his head up and never looked back.

  Get away from Alerac as soon as you can. You must meet me before dawn.

  She watched Ryan until he vanished. Then she moved to hurry away from that cabin.

  But Alerac caught her wrist. His fingers curled around the delicate bones.

  She tilted up her chin. “You should have told me that I had a brother. ” The anger was there, growing and beating inside of her.

  “He can’t be trusted,” Alerac said, voice deep. “He was there when you were imprisoned. He didn’t help you. ”

  Not caring for the audience that watched, Jane challenged, “And you did? Is that what you’re saying?”

  No, he wasn’t saying anything. Not then.

  “I can’t trust him. I can’t trust you. I can’t trust Heath. ” Her breath rushed out. “It seems the only person I can trust is myself. ”

  A hard shake of his head. “I told you that I’d keep you safe—”

  “I’m not some possession. ” The fury was so strong that she was shaking. “I’m a person. It’s not your job to keep me anything. ” She’d been afraid, and the fear had led her to this place, this mountain with him.

  She should have known to be wary of the desire he stirred within her. But she’d just been so happy to actually be feeling something again. Something—anything other than fear.

  He seduced you once.

  And he was doing it again. She was so desperate for some security, desperate for someone to want her, that she’d given in before considering all of the risks.

  “Let me go. ” Her voice was flat. Surprising, considering that she felt as if she were breaking apart on the inside.

  He glanced at her hand. Swallowed.

  Released her.

  She moved away from him and maneuvered through the smashed remains of the cabin’s door. All of those wolves—they’d sure come out fast enough. She stared at them, suspicion pushing through her. “They were in the woods, weren’t they? When I was coming here…”

  “They have orders not to attack you. ” Alerac’s curt voice. “Just to make sure that you’re safe. ”

  “Safe?” Her voice mocked the word as she glanced over her shoulder. “Or that I stay captive?” Her laugh was bitter. “I feel like a prisoner. ” She rubbed her arms. “It’s a real familiar feeling. ” She started walking then, heading toward the path that would take her back to the main house. “I don’t want to be followed any longer. Keep them back, Alerac!”

  She could hear the footfalls from the wolves.

  “Keep. Them. Back!”

  She wanted to break and run. To head for that stream. But…not yet.

  First she had to make sure that no one followed her. She stopped. Took a breath. Then looked back at the werewolf who seemed to be sinking his claws right into her heart. “It’s your land, right? Surely I’m safe here. I can manage a walk back to the house all by myself. ”

  He studied at her, his gaze unblinking.

  Jane realized that she was holding her breath.

  Then he inclined his head toward the wolves. “Go back to your other duties. ”

  They turned. Eased away.

  She started walking again.

  One foot.

  In front of the other.

  She headed into the woods. Kept her pace slow. Alerac would still be able to hear her footsteps. She had to wait. Had to plan her moment just right.

  When it was safe, then she’d go to her brother.

  ***

  “We should have killed him years ago. ” Liam shook his head as his bones began to pop and stretch. The guy had to shift in order to heal his broken nose and his broken arm. “I told you again and again, the bastard deserves a good killing. ”

  But Alerac had never been able to end Ryan McDonough’s life. Because when he looked into Ryan’s eyes all he could think about was how much she loved her brother.

  Even though that same brother had turned his back on her.

  Her screams stopped.

  Keira and Ryan had always shared a special connection. He should have known that Ryan was linked to her, even during her imprisonment. But if Ryan had been able to touch her thoughts then, why hadn’t he saved her? Why hadn’t he freed Keira?

  Liam howled as he took the form of the beast. The others were gone, the small clearing empty. As for Jane…

  He couldn’t hear the soft sound of her footsteps any longer.

  He marched forward. She wanted a witch, and he’d given the order to acquire one. But now Alerac had to wonder if Jane truly needed those memories back. Her life before the imprisonment had been short, just twenty-five years of freedom. Then two hundred in hell. Why should she be forced to remember that imprisonment? Why couldn’t they just go forward?
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