Bound in death, p.22
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       Bound In Death, p.22

         Part #5 of Bound series by Lauren DeStefano
 
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Page 22

 

  And they had.

  “There was no cure,” she said, voice leaden.

  “Sure there was,” Lorcan told her, frowning. “Death is the cure. It always is. ”

  What?

  “Now leave Jane here with me, and run while you can. ”

  Alerac’s head tilted toward the woods. “I don’t smell them. ”

  “I’ve cloaked their scents. A little trick I learned from a voodoo priestess in Africa. ”

  Alerac’s teeth snapped together. “Don’t smell ‘em, but I hear ‘em—attack!”

  The wolves jumped into motion, even as the thunder of gunfire erupted. Bullets slammed the two wolves who were next to the witch. They howled in pain, and their coats thickened with blood.

  The witch sank to the ground, her hands going over her head.

  Then a bullet drove into her shoulder.

  More bullets. More cries. More blood.

  “Enough!” Alerac roared. Then he was hurtling forward. Transforming, shifting, and running toward the woods.

  He had to protect his pack.

  She had to help him.

  Jane ran after him. She spared one final glare for Lorcan.

  “I’ll see you again!” he called out.

  She chased her werewolf into the woods.

  A bullet grazed her arm. I hope you feel that, Lorcan.

  Then a man in black charged at her.

  She grabbed the gun right out of his hands. With a quick twist, Jane broke those hands. Then she sank her teeth into the guy’s throat.

  Alerac’s wolf was growling. Attacking. Taking down men left and right.

  And they were just men—not vampires. Men. Mortal men who were in over their heads.

  They’d chosen the wrong side in this fight.

  Another bullet hit Jane in the back. She dropped her prey. He wasn’t a threat any longer. Not dead, but not about to fight back.

  She spun on the new attacker. The bloodlust within her was rising as it never had before.

  The man who’d just shot her was taking aim at Alerac now.

  No.

  She rushed toward him. Before he could fire, her teeth were in his neck.

  ***

  The bastard called Lorcan was getting away. Zoe chased after him, trying to dodge the bullets that were still flying. Silver. She hated silver.

  What werewolf didn’t?

  Lorcan was rushing into a dilapidated storage building that was about thirty yards away from the remains of the burning house.

  She heard the growl of an engine.

  No.

  When a truck burst from the side of that storage building moments later, Zoe jumped in its path. She had to stop him.

  Lorcan was behind the wheel. Smiling at her. He reeved that engine and the vehicle zoomed right at her.

  Wait for it. Wait for it. She could do this. She could—

  Something slammed into Zoe. She went flying, and when she hit the ground again, she found herself staring up at—

  A dead man.

  Ryan glared down at her. Blisters covered his face and neck, and his skin seemed to be white-hot where it touched her. She could actually feel the scorch on her body.

  “Got a death wish?” Ryan asked.

  “No, that’s you. ” She was stronger than she looked. So much stronger. She could have stopped that truck.

  Maybe.

  Now she pushed him aside. Her stomach was knotting. Her heart racing, and she was happy—no, couldn’t be happy, just relieved, for Jane’s sake—that Ryan was still alive.

  Though she didn’t even know how the hell he was walking around. Vamps and fire were supposed to be a deadly combination.

  Hell, with that much fire, it should have meant death for anyone.

  Zoe jumped to her feet. The truck was vanishing down the road. She started to chase it.

  “Don’t. We have something more valuable here. ” Ryan grabbed her hands.

  Again, his touch seemed to scorch her.

  He pointed to the bloody, cowering witch. “Consider her our GPS device. ”

  The gunfire stopped. Wolves shifted into human form, then transformed almost instantly back into beasts. They were trying to push the silver from their bodies. Trying to heal.

  She glanced around, frantic, but only counted one dead—the poor wolf that Lorcan had killed when the house exploded.

  Her shoulders sagged. She’d buried too many of her pack mates over the years.

  Too many.

  Ryan marched toward the witch. He caught the blonde’s arm and jerked her upright.

  Her blood soaked her shirt.

  “Don’t!” The blonde cried. “I didn’t want to help him! I didn’t have a choice. ”

  “Bullshit,” Ryan tossed right back at her. “We all have choices. Right now, my choice is—do I let you talk or do I just pick a vein and find the real truth through your blood?”

  The vampire was fierce. Zoe had always found tough guys to be a turn-on.

  Except when they were about to drink blood. Then…not so much.

  Before Ryan could make his choice, Jane appeared, bursting from the woods. She was covered in blood, sporting some rather vicious claws, and her fangs were most definitely out.

  This didn’t look at all like the scared, lost woman that had first arrived at the werewolf compound with Alerac.

  Jane looked like she could kick serious ass—and she just had.

  A dark wolf walked at her side. His body was massive, and his shining green gaze promised hell.

  Jane put her hand on his head, stroking him.

  Then Jane saw Ryan. She stopped. Shook her head. “R-Ryan?” In the next instant, she was running toward the vampire. Jane through her body against his and held on, tight.

  The witch didn’t move.

  Lucky girl, she’d just been spared a drinking. For the moment, anyway.

  But Zoe knew that reprieve wouldn’t last forever. In her experience, nothing lasted forever.

  Not even vampires.

  ***

  Alerac knew something was wrong the instant that he stepped back onto his land.

  The scent of blood was too heavy. Too fresh.

  He rushed toward the main house. “Finn!” He threw open the door. Ran into the great-room.

  Finn’s body was on the floor. The human—with his neck twisted—hung in his binds. The human’s chest had been clawed open.

  “No!” Zoe shoved past them and ran to Finn. She fell to her knees beside him. “No, Finn!”

  Fuck. Finn and Zoe had come to Alerac’s pack together. Not linked by blood, but by friendship. A deep and abiding friendship formed as abandoned children tossed from home to home in a foster care system that sure as hell hadn’t been made for their kind.

  No one had understood their rage. Their bloodlust. And when puberty hit and the beast surged for power—the humans had tossed both Finn and Zoe into a psych ward, convinced they were going mad.

  Alerac had found them. He’d gotten them out.

  “Finn, don’t leave me,” Zoe begged.

  He was already gone.

  Jane crossed toward Zoe. She hesitated, then put her hand on Zoe’s shoulder.

  Ryan dragged the witch over the threshold. His gaze immediately found Zoe. Tears tracked endlessly down her cheeks. He swore and hauled the witch to Zoe’s side. “He…matters to you?”

  Zoe glanced up, staring at him as if he were crazy.

  “Hell, of course, he matters. ” Ryan expelled a rough breath. Then he shook the witch. “Bring him back. ”

  Ryan was insane. Not surprising, really. Alerac had long suspected that he was.

  “Ryan,” Jane began, voice uncertain, “this can’t—”

  “He’s not human, right?”

  “His heart is gone,” Jane snapped to her brother. “He can’t com
e back!”

  Ryan frowned, and shook his head. “But she wants him back. ” He touched his temple. “Bring him back. ”

  Yes, definitely insane.

  “I can’t,” the witch whispered. “He’s not here anymore. ”

  A choked sob came from Zoe.

  The witch glanced at Alerac. “Please, let me go. ”

  Not likely. He still remembered what had happened when the witch used her magic on him. He’d felt as if someone were cutting out his heart.

  But Zoe couldn’t keep holding Finn. Alerac motioned through the open doorway, at the two werewolves who were watching in shocked silence. “Take care of Finn. Bury the human. ”

  They nodded.

  Zoe tightened her hold on him. “You can’t do this! You can’t—” But then she stopped. She inhaled. Stared down at Finn with watery eyes. “I thought it was Lorcan. That he’d done this. ”

  So had Alerac. At first.

  “Liam?” Zoe whispered as she inhaled. Then she screamed, “Liam!”

  Yes, Alerac had caught his scent, too. Liam had come back, and he’d hunted right in Alerac’s home.

  Was the bastard still close?

  Alerac glanced back through the open door. You are, aren’t you? “Keep the witch here,” Alerac told Ryan. “I’m hunting. ” He couldn’t kill Lorcan, not yet, but Liam was another matter. Liam had earned the death he had coming his way.

  He’d betrayed the pack, turned on his own kind.

  He would die.

  Alerac pointed to the witch. “Find a way to break the spell that links Jane and Lorcan. ”

  “I can’t—”

  “Find it, or you die. Because you’re no fuckin’ use to me otherwise. ” Then his stare cut to Jane.

  Jane.

  It almost hurt to look at her. Because—I nearly killed her. He hadn’t realized it. Had never suspected that Lorcan had somehow linked their life forces.

  If he’d severed Lorcan’s head from his body, Jane would have died, too. In an instant.

  When he’d whirled and seen the blood flowing down her neck, horror had filled him. He hadn’t been able to get to her fast enough. Hadn’t been able to heal her soon enough.

  He wanted to cross the room and take her into his arms.

  But his job was to protect. To protect Jane. To protect the pack. So far, he’d failed at that job.

  No longer.

  No other wolves would die by Liam’s hand. Liam had been his best friend. His closest confidant for two hundred years. It was only fitting that Alerac be the one to end him.

  Fitting? No, maybe just twisted.

  But it had to be done.

  “Sever the tie between them,” Alerac commanded the witch. He couldn’t even look at Finn’s body then.

  He headed back outside, into the too bright sunlight.

  “Alerac!”

  Jane. She’d rushed toward him so quickly. “Let me come with you. ”

  There were some battles that he had to fight on his own. “Figure out a way to save your brother. Maybe the cure wasn’t total bull. ”

  Then he faced the sun. He inhaled the scents. And followed the trail that he knew Liam had deliberately left for him.

  ***

  Jane grabbed the witch and pretty much dragged the woman upstairs. Zoe and Ryan followed her, though Zoe just looked shattered.

  I’ve looked that way before.

  Jane pushed the witch into the bedroom on the right. “Tell me your name. ”

  “M-Mina. ”

  Jane frowned at her, that name was familiar. She’d seen a movie, during her vampire research and—

  “At least, that’s what he called me. ” Mina’s voice was softer now. “I’ve been with him since I was five. I don’t really know…I don’t remember what I was called before that. ”

  “Dracula’s freaking bride. ” Ryan sounded disgusted. “Guess it makes sense that he’d call you that. Asshole probably thinks that it’s funny. ”

  Mina’s head whipped up. “I’m not his bride. ” Her index finger pointed to Jane. “She’s his bride. ”

  The hell she was. “You’re a witch,” Jane said. Stating the obvious, right?

  But Mina still nodded.

  “Tell me about the poison in my brother. ”

  “I-I didn’t craft that poison. ”

  “Right, of course you didn’t,” the disgusted snap came from Ryan. Zoe stared at them all, her hands wrapped around her stomach. Ryan continued, “Because you weren’t Lorcan’s flavor of choice back then. That was another witch. He killed her after she locked my sister in her prison with magic and poisoned me. ” He braced his legs apart as he stared at Mina. “But every poison has a cure, right?”

  A timid nod.

  “What cures me?”

  Mina’s gaze darted to Zoe.

  Ryan’s eyes narrowed. “What. Cures. Me?”

  Mina swiped away a tear that had slid down her cheek. “I read the old book that Shonna left behind. ”

  Shonna. The name meant nothing to Jane. Big surprise.

  “Shonna was his witch back in the day,” Ryan explained. Had he read her mind, used their link to see what she was thinking? Or had he just guessed?

  “The book said that the poison could be purged if you took the blood of a caged beast. ” Mina spoke quickly. “She said the beast had to be dormant, locked, and your poison would destroy that beast even as you were healed. ”

  Ryan had turned to stare at Zoe. “Fuck me. ”

  Jane’s gaze darted between them.

  Zoe laughed. “It’s me? You think I’m your cure?” Her eyes were on the floor, not on Ryan. “I’m a curse. Not a cure. Trust me. ”

  “Don’t worry,” Ryan told her, voice thick. “I’m not about to destroy you. ” He turned his glare back on the witch. “Think of another way. ”

  Jane heard a howl then, seeming to echo off the mountain. She headed toward the window. Stared out. She didn’t see Alerac, but she knew that he was out there. Hunting.
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